Stocks inch up, putting S&P 500 on track for its first gain in 5 days – Los Angeles Times

This post was originally published on this site

U.S. stocks perked up in Thursday morning trading, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was on track for its first gain in five days.

Crude oil inched higher following a plunge Wednesday, and Asian stocks recovered some of their sharp losses from the day before.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 2 points, or 0.1%, at 2,631, as of 10:05 a.m. Eastern time. If the S&P 500 remains higher through the day, it would snap the longest losing streak for the index since March. Losses over that span have been modest, though, with the index never dropping more than 0.4% in a day over that time.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48 points, or 0.2%, to 24,188, and the Nasdaq composite advanced 15 points, or 0.2%, to 6,791. Three stocks rose on the New York Stock Exchange for every two that fell.

UP, AND MOSTLY DOWN, WEEK: Markets have drifted mostly lower this week, as Congress moves finalize its proposal to overhaul the tax system and send it to President Trump. The House and Senate plans would create slightly different winners and losers among corporate taxpayers, and investors have been trying to shift to areas of the market that they think ultimately would benefit the most. That has caused investors to pull out of technology stocks at times and into financial companies and retailers, though the flows have been choppy.

BIT MORE ENERGETIC: Energy stocks recovered some of their Wednesday losses as the price of oil ticked higher.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 39 cents to $56.35 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 55 cents to $61.77 a barrel.

That helped energy stocks in the S&P 500 rise 0.4%, the second-most among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

EARNINGS BOOST: Dollar General climbed 2.9% to $93.44, notching to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500, after reporting stronger revenue and earnings for its latest quarter than analysts expected.

Strong earnings growth has been one of the main reasons for the nearly 18% rise in the S&P 500 this year, along with the improving global economy.

ECONOMY: More evidence that the job market is strengthening arrived in a government report showing that fewer workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. The numbers are considered a proxy for layoffs, and they offer an encouraging sign that the U.S. labor market continues to improve.

On Friday, the government will release its closely watched monthly jobs report. If it shows as much strength as economists expect, the Federal Reserve probably will be on track to raise interest rates at its meeting next week. That would be the third rate increase of the year.

YIELDS: Treasury yields fell as prices for government bonds rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.32% from Wednesday’s 2.34%. The two-year yield declined to 1.79% from 1.81%, and the 30-year yield slid to 2.70% from 2.73%.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 112.65 Japanese yen from 112.28 yen. The euro ticked up to $1.1795 from $1.1793, and the British pound rose to $1.3413 from $1.3375.

COMMODITIES: Gold fell $9.30 to $1,256.80 an ounce. Silver fell 11 cents to $15.85 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $2.98 a pound.

Natural gas fell 11 cents, or 3.7%, to $2.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.

MARKETS ABROAD: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 1.4% after its worst day since March — on Wednesday it had a 2% loss. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.3%, and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.5%.

Germany’s DAX rose 0.2%, the FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.1% and France’s CAC 40 was close to flat.