Belfast Telegraph

Retailers help US stocks rise for sixth day in a row

US stocks have climbed for the sixth day in a row as strong first-quarter results from retailers such as Best Buy and PVH led indexes to record highs.

That offset weakness in energy stocks caused by a plunge in oil prices.

Stocks are on their longest winning streak in three months as retailers, technology companies, household products companies and healthcare firms made large gains.

The Nasdaq composite joined the Standard & Poor's 500 in setting record highs.

While retailers that run stores jumped, their online rival Amazon also made a sizeable gain as its stock price approached 1,000 dollars for the first time.

Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones, said she does not think Thursday's retail earnings are a sign that business for traditional retailers is getting better.

"It's probably not something investors should take as a sign of improvement in the retail landscape," she said.

"Consumer spending is actually strong, but consumers are spending in places other than traditional retailers."

Small companies were mostly left out of the rally, however.

And even though Opec and a group of other oil-producing nations extended their cuts in production, the price of oil fell almost 5% and energy companies took steep losses.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 10.68 points, or 0.4%, to 2,415.07.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 70.53 points, or 0.3%, to 21,082.95.

The Nasdaq composite jumped 42.23 points, or 0.7%, to 6,205.26, above the record it notched last week.

The Russell 2000 index edged up just 0.88 points, or 0.1%, to 1,383.39.

Electronics retailer Best Buy soared after it issued a strong first-quarter report, including better sales of mobile devices and gaming products. Its stock gained 10.83 dollars, or 21.5%, to 61.25 dollars.

PVH, the owner of brands including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, climbed 4.94 dollars, or 4.8%, to 106.98 dollars after it raised its annual forecasts in the wake of its own strong report.

Other retailers including Guess, Abercrombie & Fitch and Burlington Stores also made substantial gains.

Amazon rose 13.03 dollars, or 1.3%, to 993.38 dollars. Its stock peaked at 999 dollars during the day.

A group of 24 countries including Opec members and Russia said they will extend their production cuts for nine months in an effort to shore up oil prices.

That was what most analysts expected, but investors appeared to have got their hopes up for a longer extension.

And while oil prices have rallied over the last few weeks, experts were sceptical that the deal will do much to boost prices.

Benchmark US crude lost 2.46 dollars, or 4.8%, to 48.90 dollars a barrel in New York and Brent crude, the international standard, fell 2.50 dollars, or 4.6%, to 51.46 dollars a barrel in London.

Oilfield services company Schlumberger sagged 1.97 dollars, or 2.8%, to 69.39 dollars and Marathon Oil dropped 1.03 dollars, or 7.1%, to 13.50 dollars.

Unlike the other major indexes, the Russell 2000 has not recouped all of its losses from last Wednesday, when the stock market had its worst day of the year.

The index is comprised of smaller companies that tend to be more US-focused, which means new challenges to President Donald Trump's proposed agenda of reduced taxes and regulations have hit those companies harder.

Ms Warne, of Edward Jones, added that the performance of the US economy has been mixed lately and international growth is looking better.

That is helping larger companies that do more business overseas, like large technology firms, but it does not mean as much to smaller companies.

Technology companies made significant gains. Microsoft rose 85 cents, or 1.2%, to 69.62 dollars and Google parent Alphabet also neared the millennial mark as it gained 14.25 dollars, or 1.5%, to 991.86 dollars. Apple added 53 cents to 153.87 dollars.

Jack Daniels maker Brown-Forman slumped after it put out a statement saying the company is not for sale and plans to remain under family control.

The stock jumped on Monday on reports that Constellation Brands, which makes Corona and Modelo beers, might try to buy Brown-Forman. The stock fell 2.74 dollars, or 5%, to 51.60 dollars. Constellation Brands gained 1.31 dollars to 180.14 dollars.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline skidded four cents to 1.61 dollars a gallon. Heating oil lost six cents to 1.55 dollars a gallon. Natural gas slid three cents to 3.18 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 3.30 dollars to 1,256.40 dollars an ounce. Silver gained eight cents to 17.19 dollars an ounce. Copper rose one cent to 2.60 dollars a pound.

Bond prices declined. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.26% from 2.25%.

The dollar dipped to 111.80 yen from 111.90 yen. The euro rose to 1.1205 dollars from 1.1195 dollars.

Germany's DAX was down 0.2% and the French CAC 40 lost 0.1%. The FTSE 100 Index in Britain was unchanged.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo climbed 0.4% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rallied 0.8%. The Kospi of South Korea jumped 1%.


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