S&P 500 Clings to Chance for Longest Win Streak Since April

(AP) -
stocks, markets, wall street

U.S. stocks hovered near their record levels in afternoon trading Wednesday, inching the S&P 500 toward its longest winning streak in eight months.

Trading was mostly listless on Wall Street on a day without major new economic data and only a few corporate earnings reports for investors to mull over. Stocks have jumped recently on optimism around a “Phase 1” trade deal announced last week between the United States and China, among other factors. But after five straight days of gains, the S&P 500 has less fuel to push higher.

“The market doesn’t seem like it’s stretched, so it’s not surprising that we’re seeing it kind of slowly moving up higher,” said Veronica Willis, investment strategy analyst at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “But I would not be surprised to see a little bit of profit-taking as we’re getting these record highs.”

Technology, communication services and real estate stocks were among the gainers, outweighing losses in banks, industrial companies and makers of household goods.

FedEx slumped sharply after it cut its profit forecast for its fiscal year and reported weaker quarterly earnings than analysts expected. It cited “weak global economic conditions” and higher expenses. Cigna, though, jumped after it agreed to sell its group life and disability coverage business for $6.3 billion.

Treasury yields rose and the price of crude oil edged higher, barely extending its five-day winning streak.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 edged up 0.1% as of 2:13 p.m. Eastern time. More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 29 points, or 0.1%, to 28,296. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.3%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks rose 0.2%.

Major European markets were mostly lower.

YIELDS: Treasury yields rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 1.92% from 1.89% late Tuesday.

DELIVERING SOUR NEWS: FedEx slumped 9.9% for the biggest loss in the S&P 500 after it reported revenue and earnings for the latest quarter that fell short of analysts’ expectations. The company cited pressure on prices, among other factors.

FedEx’s woes also pulled UPS lower. The stock gave up 1.9%.

SWEETER SCOOPS: General Mills added 1.8% after it reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. The company behind Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Yoplait yogurt said its sales were flat from a year ago, which was a touch weaker than analysts expected, but it made more in profit from each $1 in sales than Wall Street forecast.

HEALTHY RETURNS: Cigna rose 2.2% after it said it plans to use the $5.3 billion in after-tax proceeds from the sale of its group life and disability coverage business to buy back its stock and pay down debt. Cigna increased its stock repurchase program by $3 billion to a total authorization of $4 billion.

SHARPLY DRESSED: Cintas gained 2.7% after it reported stronger earnings and revenue for the latest quarter than Wall Street expected. The company, which provides uniforms, restroom supplies and other products for businesses, also raised its profit forecast for the fiscal year.

RETAIL REBOUND: Several department store chains notched solid gains. Macy’s rose 2.8%, L Brands climbed 3.3% and Nordstrom picked up 3.2%.

IMPEACHMENT WATCH: Much of the nation is focused on Capitol Hill, where the House of Representatives began a historic session to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. But Wall Street is not paying much attention.

“This is what the market already expected, that it would go to a vote in the House and once it eventually moves on to the Senate the president won’t be removed from office,” Willis said. “There are no surprises on that front, which is why the market isn’t reacting much to it.”

Investors like Trump’s approach of low taxes and less regulation for businesses, but they see his removal from office as unlikely because the Republican-controlled Senate would decide his fate following a House impeachment vote.

OIL SLIP: Crude prices edged higher, extending a strong run over the last week that brought them to their highest levels in months. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 8 cents to $61.02 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 11 cents to $66.21.