Sun, Oct 01, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Tech, healthcare rise as US markets hit record highs


Large technology and healthcare companies and smaller US-focused firms on Friday rose again as US markets finished the third quarter at record highs.

Stocks were mixed at the start of trading, as they had been the day before.

However, chipmakers and big-name technology companies pulled stocks higher, as they have done all year. Healthcare companies also did better than the rest of the market.

The market ended the quarter on a four-day winning streak that began after US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank plans to continue to raising interest rates.

“It’s all about the confidence they have that, despite low inflation, it still makes sense to raise interest rates,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. “She’s [Yellen] confident in the economy and the economic backdrop is very solid.”

The S&P 500 on Friday rose 9.30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,519.36, an increase of 0.7 percent from 2,502.22 on Sept. 22.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday turned higher to finish with a gain of 23.89 points, or 0.1 percent, at 22,405.09, rising 0.3 percent from 22,349.59 a week earlier.

The NASDAQ Composite on Friday jumped 42.51 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 6,495.96, an increase of 1.1 percent from 6,426.92 on Sept. 22.

The S&P 500 and NASDAQ both closed at all-time highs.

The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks on Friday added 2.08 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 1,490.86, rising 3.3 percent from 1,443.47 a week earlier. It is also at record highs after a big rally this month.

It climbed 6 percent last month as investors felt positive about the US economy and hoped US Congress and US President Donald Trump’s administration would reduce taxes.

Technology companies rose further and were the best-performing S&P 500 sector in the third quarter. They also held that distinction in the first quarter.

The S&P 500 technology index has climbed 26 percent this year, while the S&P 500 is up 12.5 percent.

Facebook Inc added US$2.14, or 1.3 percent, to US$170.87 and chip equipment maker Applied Materials Inc rose US$1.47, or 2.9 percent, to US$52.09. Chipmaker Nvidia Corp advanced US$3.09, or 1.8 percent, to US$178.77.

The recent gains for tech firms have come in spite of a slump for Apple Inc, the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.

While Apple has soared this year, it is down 4 percent since it announced its new line of iPhones and other products on Sept. 12.

KB Home advanced after its third-quarter profit and sales beat estimates. The stock rose US$1.90, or 8.6 percent, to US$24.12.

Other homebuilders also rose. Meritage Homes Corp picked up US$0.85, or 2 percent, to US$44.40 and D.R. Horton advanced US$0.95, or 2.4 percent, to US$39.93.

Stocks have risen for eight quarters in a row, and Frederick said he expects that to continue in the fourth quarter as the global economy is likely to keep growing and interest rates in the US should rise more, which will help profits for banks.

However, Frederick said it is possible that concerns about domestic politics, including the federal debt limit, or international concerns, such as tensions with North Korea, will weigh on stocks again, as they did at times in the third quarter.

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