Tech and bank stocks give Wall Street a lift despite Hurricane Harvey impact

US stocks edged higher today as technology companies and banks rose with the Standard & Poor's 500 index closing above 2,500 for the first time as stocks had one of their best weeks this year.

Stocks wobbled in early trading after the commerce department said retail sales slipped in August and the Federal Reserve said industrial production dropped last month, mostly because of Hurricane Harvey.

But big names like Apple and Boeing took the market higher. Stocks made big gains on Monday and as Hurricane Irma weakened, and they did not do too much after that, but still wound up with their biggest weekly gain since the beginning of January.

Rick Rieder, the chief investment officer for BlackRock's global fixed income business, said retail sales and inflation have been weak because technological changes keep sending the price of clothes, food, travel, and phone plans lower.

The lower prices reduce measurements of sales revenue, like the one the government released on Friday, but Mr Rieder said they keep people buying.

"We get everything cheaper than we used to because of the internet and delivery mechanisms," he said. "The price is coming down so quickly that it's helping demand."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 4.61 points, or 0.2%, to a record 2,500.23. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.86 points, or 0.3%, to 22,268.34, its fourth record close in a row.

The Nasdaq composite added 19.38 points, or 0.3%, to 6,448.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 6.69 points, or 0.5%, to 1,431.71.

Industrial production in the US fell 0.9% in August, the biggest drop in eight years, as Harvey knocked numerous oil refining, plastics and chemicals factories out of business for a time.

Many of those factories are based in the Gulf Coast region that Harvey hit. The Federal Reserve said the weather and flooding was responsible for almost all of the loss.

Apple picked up 1.60 dollars, or 1%, to 159.88 dollars after three days of declines. Chipmaker Nvidia jumped 10.71 dollars, or 6.3%, to 180.11 dollars and hard drive maker Western Digital gained 2.73 dollars, or 3.2%, to 88.52 dollars.

However shares of software maker Oracle absorbed their biggest loss in four years. The company's first-quarter profit and sales were better than investors expected, but analysts were concerned about forecasts for its cloud computing business. Oracle lost 4.05 dollars, or 7.7%, to 48.74 dollars.

Stocks in the UK slumped to a four-month low and the pound rose to its highest level since mid-2016, after Bank of England officials confirmed they are close to raising interest rates for the first time in a decade.

The first step could happen as soon as November. Many companies on the British FTSE 100 are multinationals whose overseas earnings are diminished in value when the pound appreciates against other currencies.

The pound surged to 1.3571 dollars from 1.3398, its highest since mid-2016. The FTSE 100 fell 1.1% after a 1.1% loss on Thursday.

UK stocks did not appear to be affected by a bomb attack on a London Underground train. Police said an improvised explosive device hurt more than 20 people, but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Credit monitoring companies continued to fall as Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would prevent the companies from charging fees to consumers who want their credit frozen. In many states, the companies collect fees in return for freezing accounts.

Some consumers have chosen to freeze their credit after Equifax said the personal information of 143 million Americans was exposed after a breach of its systems.

Those consumers are trying to prevent identity thieves from using their information to open fraudulent accounts.

Equifax fell 3.68 dollars, or 3.8%, to a two-year low of 92.98 dollars. The stock began plunging last Friday after the company disclosed the breach, and this week it took its biggest weekly loss since tend of 1998. Rival TransUnion lost 1.47 dollars, or 3.4%, to 41.61 dollars and Experian fell 0.9% in London.

AP

Stocks wobbled in early trading after the commerce department said retail sales slipped in August and the Federal Reserve said industrial production dropped last month, mostly because of Hurricane Harvey.

But big names like Apple and Boeing took the market higher. Stocks made big gains on Monday and as Hurricane Irma weakened, and they did not do too much after that, but still wound up with their biggest weekly gain since the beginning of January.

Rick Rieder, the chief investment officer for BlackRock's global fixed income business, said retail sales and inflation have been weak because technological changes keep sending the price of clothes, food, travel, and phone plans lower.

The lower prices reduce measurements of sales revenue, like the one the government released on Friday, but Mr Rieder said they keep people buying.

"We get everything cheaper than we used to because of the internet and delivery mechanisms," he said. "The price is coming down so quickly that it's helping demand."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 4.61 points, or 0.2%, to a record 2,500.23. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.86 points, or 0.3%, to 22,268.34, its fourth record close in a row.

The Nasdaq composite added 19.38 points, or 0.3%, to 6,448.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 6.69 points, or 0.5%, to 1,431.71.

Industrial production in the US fell 0.9% in August, the biggest drop in eight years, as Harvey knocked numerous oil refining, plastics and chemicals factories out of business for a time.

Many of those factories are based in the Gulf Coast region that Harvey hit. The Federal Reserve said the weather and flooding was responsible for almost all of the loss.

Apple picked up 1.60 dollars, or 1%, to 159.88 dollars after three days of declines. Chipmaker Nvidia jumped 10.71 dollars, or 6.3%, to 180.11 dollars and hard drive maker Western Digital gained 2.73 dollars, or 3.2%, to 88.52 dollars.

However shares of software maker Oracle absorbed their biggest loss in four years. The company's first-quarter profit and sales were better than investors expected, but analysts were concerned about forecasts for its cloud computing business. Oracle lost 4.05 dollars, or 7.7%, to 48.74 dollars.

Stocks in the UK slumped to a four-month low and the pound rose to its highest level since mid-2016, after Bank of England officials confirmed they are close to raising interest rates for the first time in a decade.

The first step could happen as soon as November. Many companies on the British FTSE 100 are multinationals whose overseas earnings are diminished in value when the pound appreciates against other currencies.

The pound surged to 1.3571 dollars from 1.3398, its highest since mid-2016. The FTSE 100 fell 1.1% after a 1.1% loss on Thursday.

UK stocks did not appear to be affected by a bomb attack on a London Underground train. Police said an improvised explosive device hurt more than 20 people, but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Credit monitoring companies continued to fall as Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would prevent the companies from charging fees to consumers who want their credit frozen. In many states, the companies collect fees in return for freezing accounts.

Some consumers have chosen to freeze their credit after Equifax said the personal information of 143 million Americans was exposed after a breach of its systems.

Those consumers are trying to prevent identity thieves from using their information to open fraudulent accounts.

Equifax fell 3.68 dollars, or 3.8%, to a two-year low of 92.98 dollars. The stock began plunging last Friday after the company disclosed the breach, and this week it took its biggest weekly loss since tend of 1998. Rival TransUnion lost 1.47 dollars, or 3.4%, to 41.61 dollars and Experian fell 0.9% in London.

- AP


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