Belfast Telegraph

Another record day for Wall Street ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 indexes again set records Wednesday in a quiet day of pre-holiday trading.

Machinery and equipment makers climbed after strong results from Deere, but technology companies fell.

Stocks opened mostly lower, but they slowly recovered. Industrial companies like Caterpillar and United Technologies continued to rise. Banks also rose as bond yields climbed. Companies that make hardware and network devices skidded after printer and PC maker HP gave a weak profit forecast.

"It sends kind of a chill through the sector," said Sameer Samana, a strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

The Dow rose 59.31 points, or 0.3%, to 19,083.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 1.78 points, or 0.1%, to 2,204.72. The Nasdaq composite lost 5.67 points, or 0.1%, to 5,380.68. Trading was relatively light ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. US markets will be closed on Thursday and will close early on Friday.

The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks climbed for the 14th day in a row. It has closed at a record high for nine consecutive days and it's up 18 percent this year, more than twice as much as the S&P 500, which tracks large companies.

Deere, an agricultural and construction equipment maker, reported a bigger profit than analysts expected even though its business has been hurt by a slowdown construction and low commodity prices, which have caused farmers to cut back on purchases of equipment. The stock advanced 10.16 dollars, or 11%, to 102.17 dollars, its highest-ever closing price.

Already trading at all-time highs, industrial companies continued to rise after Deere's report. Construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar gained 2.56 dollars, or 2.7%, to 96.18 dollars. United Technologies, which makes elevators, jet engines and other things, added 1.17 dollars, or 1.1%, to 108.11 dollars. Both companies are Dow components, which contributed to the Dow's big gain.

Printer and PC maker HP lost ground after it issued a profit forecast that disappointed investors. Its stock gave up 1.08 dollars, or 6.8%, to 14.87 dollars. Tech stocks did very well this summer, but they have lagged the market since the presidential election. Mr Samana said investors are concerned that President-elect Donald Trump's immigration policies will hurt their ability to hire workers.

"You may see foreign competitors be able to be more attractive places for talent if there were to be greater restrictions over who could and could not come over," he said.

Bond prices dropped, sending yields higher. The yield on the two-year Treasury note rose to 1.13% from 1.09%. The yield on that note is at its highest in more than six years. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.36% from 2.31%, its highest in almost a year and a half.

Higher bond yields are linked to higher interest rates, so the rising yields helped bank stocks turn higher. Capital One rose 2.03 dollars, or 2.5%, to 84.62 dollars and Sterling Bancorp jumped 45 cents, or 2%, to 23.50 dollars. The S&P 500 financial index is up 12% since the election while the S&P 500 itself is up 3%.

As bond yields rose, investors sold shares of real estate investment trusts, utilities, and companies that sell household goods. Those companies are sometimes compared to bonds because they pay large dividends. When bonds yields rise, those stocks become less appealing to investors seeking income.

Eli Lilly dropped after saying a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease failed in a clinical trial, as it did not slow down patients' mental decline compared to a placebo. Lilly fell 7.99 dollars, or 10.5%, to 68 dollars, its lowest value in two years. Biogen, which is also involved in studying a treatment for the disease, sank 12.18 dollars, or 3.8 percent, to 305.93 dollars.

The price of gold reached its lowest level since February as it tumbled 21.90 dollars, or 1.8%, to 1,189.30 dollars an ounce. Silver fell 24 cents, or 1.4%, to 16.39 dollars an ounce. But copper picked up six cents, or 2.5%, to 2.61 dollars a pound.

Since the election gold prices have skidded and copper prices have surged. Copper's price is linked to economic expansion because of its use in construction and other areas, and it's at its highest price in more than a year. It jumped in late October and November, when the broader market was falling as investors wondered about the outcome of the presidential election, and at one point it closed higher for 14 days in a row.

The metal's price kept rising after the election as investors hope demand will increase under a potential infrastructure stimulus from Mr Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress.

The dollar rose to 112.60 yen from 111.14 yen. The euro fell to 1.0549 from 1.0624 dollars. The US currency has not been this strong since March 2003. That is good news for US companies that import goods, but it hurts businesses that get a lot of revenue from overseas.

Benchmark US crude slipped seven cents to 47.96 dollars per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 17 cents to 48.95 dollars a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale petrol picked up one cent to 1.42 dollars a gallon. Heating oil fell one cent to 1.52 dollars per gallon. Natural gas rose four cents to 3.03 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.

Germany's DAX index shed 0.5% and the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.4%. Britain's FTSE 100 was slightly lower. The Kospi in South Korea advanced 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended unchanged. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.