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story.lead_photo.caption In this May 1, 2019, file photo traders Peter Mancuso, left, and Robert Arciero work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Wall Street capped a day of listless trading Tuesday with modest gains, narrowly avoiding a three-day losing streak for the S&P 500 index.

A last-minute burst of buying nudged the benchmark index into positive territory after spending most of the day flat or down.

The S&P 500 rose 3.68 points, or 0.1%, to 2,979.63. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.65 points, or 0.1%, to 26,783.49.

The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology companies, gained 43.35 points, or 0.5%, to 8,141.73. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1.20 points, or 0.1%, to 1,562.59.

Major stock indexes in Europe finished lower.

Stocks have wavered between small gains and losses after a run of record highs last week. Investors have been mostly pausing ahead of two days of congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Traders will be listening to the exchanges that Powell has with lawmakers today and Thursday for hints about the Fed's next move on interest rates.

The market rallied through much of June after the central bank signaled that it's prepared to cut rates to offset slowing global growth and the fallout from U.S. trade conflicts. But an unexpectedly strong U.S. jobs report Friday has dimmed investors' expectations.

Many traders still expect the Fed will cut its benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point at the end of the month, but fewer are now expecting a half-point reduction.

"Certainly the jobs report put into perspective just how much easing may be possible, given the continued strength of the economy," said Justin Kelly, chief investment officer at Winslow Capital. "So the market is likely recalibrating."

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.07% from 2.03% late Monday.

The benchmark S&P 500 hit record highs three-straight days last week. Even with the sluggish start to this week, the S&P 500 is 0.5% below the record set July 3.

The question is whether the Fed will still see a good argument for cutting interest rates after the strong June jobs data.

The Fed's benchmark interest rate currently stands in a range of 2.25% to 2.5%, and the central bank has not cut rates since the recession in 2008. Last year, Fed officials raised rates four times, in part to stave off the risk of high inflation and in part to try to ensure that they would have room to cut rates if the economy stumbled.

On Friday, the Fed emphasized that it would act as necessary to sustain the economic expansion, while noting that most Fed officials have changed their expectations for the course of rates.

While investors are focused on the Fed this week, traders may also be holding back ahead of next week, when the bulk of S&P 500 companies begin reporting their second-quarter results.

Expectations are generally low, and this could be the first time in three years that S&P 500 companies report back-to-back quarterly declines in overall earnings, according to FactSet.

Technology and communications-services stocks drove much of Tuesday's gains in the market. Advanced Micro Devices climbed 3.5%, and Twitter rose 3.3%.

Banks also notched solid gains, receiving a boost from the rising bond yields, which drive up interest rates on mortgages and other loans. First Republic Bank gained 1.5%.

Consumer staples, materials and industrials stocks lagged the broader market. Energy drink-maker Monster Beverage dropped 1.9%, and industrial giant 3M slid 2.1%.

Business on 07/10/2019

Print Headline: After sluggish start, late rally, S&P 500 ekes out a gain

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