Slight gains in U.S. stocks lift Dow, S&P, Nasdaq to new highs

Andrew Cummings
September 21, 2017

At 12:33 p.m. ET (1633 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 44.65 points, or 0.2 percent, at 22,376, the S&P 500 was up 3.79 points, or 0.15 percent, at 2,507.66 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 9.73 points, or 0.15 percent, at 6,464.37.

On the data front, USA housing starts totaled 1.18 million in July, slightly above the expected 1.175 million. Oil prices were on course for their largest third-quarter gain in 13 years, with the USA crude settling at $50.41 a barrel, up 1.9 per cent.

Fed policymakers made a decision to leave the central bank's short-term benchmark interest rate between 1 percent and 1.25 percent, but also said they still expect to increase the rate one more time this year and three times in 2018, if persistently low inflation rebounds.

The central bank is likely to keep interest rate unchanged and say that it will start unwinding its holdings of about US$4.2 trillion in bonds and mortgage-backed securities. U.S. Bancorp added 78 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $53.16.

Best Buy fell more than 8 percent after the No.1 U.S. electronics retailer forecast 2021 adjusted earnings well below Wall Street estimates. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2% and the Shenzhen Composite was up 0.9%.

Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 2.238%.

Pfizer rose more than 2%, lifting the S&P and the Dow higher, after Morgan Stanley upgraded stock to "overweight" from "equal weight".

Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS) are posting standout gains following a report from CNBC that the companies are in active talks about a merger. The S&P 500 gained 0.29 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,506.94. The benchmark KOSPI inched down around zero.1 percent at 2,416.0-5. Tesla TSLA.O fell 2.6 percent after Jefferies started coverage of the electric vehicle maker's stock with an "underperform" rating.

However, a stronger-than-expected rise in consumer prices in August triggered a more than 50 percent rise in the odds of a December rate hike, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool. The euro strengthened to $1.1997 from $1.1953.

Significant strength was also visible among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 1.6% gain posted by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. Brent crude, used to price global oils, gained $1.15, or 2.1 percent, to $56.29 a barrel in London. The PCE inflation outlook for the year was unchanged at 1.6%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.1 percent, while South Korea's Kospi lost almost 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was stable at 7,272.

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