July 10, 2018 / 11:42 AM / 4 months ago

S&P 500 posts highest close since February; futures fall late on tariff fears

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 rose on Tuesday to post its highest closing level since Feb. 1, the day before the market began a sharp extended selloff, as strong results from PepsiCo boosted optimism about the earnings season.

The consumer staples index climbed 1.3 percent and provided the biggest lift to the S&P 500, driven by PepsiCo, which gained 4.8 percent, while Procter & Gamble rose 2.5 percent and Coca-Cola was up 1.3 percent.

Recent upbeat news on the economy as well as earnings have helped to offset worries about escalating trade tensions between the United States and China. The two countries slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods on Friday.

Concerns over trade resurfaced after Tuesday’s close, with S&P futures falling late after a Trump administration official said the White House is likely to announce a list of $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods as early as Tuesday night.

“It’s not an inconsequential move,” said Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco, of the decline in futures. “This trade war escalating is not good news, and the market won’t see it as good news.”

S&P 500 e-mini futures ended the session down 0.1 percent and were off 0.8 percent after trading resumed for the overnight session.

During the regular session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 143.07 points, or 0.58 percent, to end at 24,919.66, while the Nasdaq Composite added 3.00 points, or 0.04 percent, to 7,759.20. The S&P 500 gained 9.67 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,793.84.

The S&P 500 index has risen about 3 percent in the last four sessions. It is now up 4.5 percent since the end of 2017 and is less than 3 percent from its Jan. 26 record high. Worries over rising bond yields and potentially firming inflation drove the early February selloff, which confirmed a correction for the market.

Earnings are expected to become key for investors in the coming weeks as the U.S. reporting period kicks into high gear. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup are scheduled to report results on Friday. Their shares dipped on Tuesday after leading market gains on Monday.

PepsiCo’s shares surged after the company’s quarterly results topped estimates on strong sales of snacks. The company also reaffirmed its full-year forecast amid signs of a gradual recovery in its soda business.

Overall, S&P 500 companies are expected to post second-quarter profit growth of around 21 percent, slightly higher than what was forecast in April, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Also boosting the S&P on Tuesday, utilities and telecom indexes rose about 1 percent each, bouncing back from Monday’s losses.

Higher oil prices lifted energy shares. The S&P energy index rose 0.7 percent as crude oil prices gained on growing supply disruptions in Norway and Libya, but gains were pared after the United States said it would consider requests for waivers from Iranian oil sanctions.

Shares of Exxon and Chevron were up around 1 percent each.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.06-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.53-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 30 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 104 new highs and 26 new lows.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Trading volume was among the lightest of the year, with about 5.8 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 7.0 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

To view a graphic on the S&P earnings scorecard, click: reut.rs/2NGnzMz

Additional reporting by April Joyner in New York and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by James Dalgleish and Cynthia Osterman

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