Small-Company Stocks Shine On an Otherwise Ho-Hum Day


U.S. stocks hardly moved Friday as the market wrapped up a solid week. Smaller companies rose following signs of sustained economic growth and reports that more tariffs on Chinese goods could be on the way.

Stocks rose in early trading after the Federal Reserve said production of cars and energy jumped in August. The Commerce Department said sales by retailers grew only slightly in August after a big gain in July.

Bond yields jumped Friday as investors interpreted the Federal Reserve report as a sign the economy will keep growing and interest rates will keep rising. That helped bank stocks, but it hurt high-dividend stocks.

Retailers and health care stocks also took small losses.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.80 points to 2,904.98. The index rose all five days this week after a four-day losing streak last week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 8.68 points to 26,154.67. The Nasdaq composite slipped 3.67 points to 8,010.04.

The combination of trade worries and positive economic news helped smaller companies, which do more business in the U.S. than larger companies do. That makes them less vulnerable to flare-ups in trade tensions. The Russell 2000 index gained 7.40 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,721.72.

Bloomberg News reported that President Donald Trump has told aides to go ahead with tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China. The report said the administration may be having difficulty finding products it can tax that won’t result in major complaints from consumers and businesses.

Industrial companies also rose after the Federal Reserve’s report. Aerospace company Boeing jumped 1.2 percent to $359.80 and shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls gained 1.6 percent to $252.90.

The industrial data is a sign the U.S. economy is likely to keep growing, which means the Federal Reserve is likely to continue raising interest rates.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.99 percent from 2.96 percent late Thursday.

Banks and financial companies rose, as higher long-term interest rates help them make more money from mortgages and other types of loans. Prudential Financial added 2.9 percent to $99.86 and SVB Financial Group LendingTree gained 1.4 percent to $319.29.

A series of gas explosions killed one person and injured at least 10 and forced evacuations in three communities north of Boston. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency blamed the fires on gas lines that had become over-pressurized.

They are served by Columbia Gas, a unit of NiSource. NiSource’s stock plunged 11.7 percent to $24.79.

Hurricane Florence came ashore in North Carolina Friday morning. Florence could do much damage to the region, it’s not expected to have a big effect on the overall economy.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 0.6 percent to $68.99 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 0.1 percent to $78.09 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline lost 1.1 percent to $1.97 a gallon and heating oil fell 0.6 percent to $2.21 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 1.8 percent to $2.77 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar rose to 112.03 yen from 111.88 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1632 from $1.1692.