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Wall St. clings to records, helped by banks; tech falters
September 18, 2017 / 11:44 AM / a month ago

Wall St. clings to records, helped by banks; tech falters

(Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended slightly higher on Monday as financial stocks rose ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting, but the Nasdaq pared gains sharply as technology stocks lost ground late in the session.

Five of the 11 major S&P sectors ended lower. Rising U.S. Treasury yields boosted financial stocks, as higher interest rates tend to lift bank profits, but rate-sensitive sectors such as utilities were the weakest.

The Fed meeting, which starts Tuesday, is expected to yield details on how the central bank will unwind its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, nearly a decade after the global financial crisis.

After pushing the S&P above its 2,500-point milestone last week, investors were holding their fire as they awaited more clues on the timing of the next rate hike from Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

“You just had that little momentum spurt after it went through 2,500 but it is kind of running out of steam and is going to bide its time until Wednesday, when they listen to Janet” said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York.

However, the Dow still clocked a closing record for the fifth day in a row while the S&P had a closing record for the second consecutive session.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“There’s momentum in the market. There’s lots of cash. Even though the Fed’s about to reduce their balance sheet, you continue to have incredibly aggressive monetary policy. That continues to lead to money flowing into the market almost in an indiscriminate fashion,” said Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 63.01 points, or 0.28 percent, to 22,331.35, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 3.64 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,503.87 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 6.17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,454.64.

Big technology stocks such as Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O) came under pressure late in the session after Amazon said it would move to charging businesses in one-second increments for use of its servers.

“That competes with Google and Microsoft, and it’s going to weigh on the entire tech space” because of price competition, said Michael O‘Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Microsoft shares ended down 0.2 percent while Alphabet was off 0.6 percent, with both stocks seeing a pickup in volume late in the day.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.36-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.55-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

About 5.97 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges on Monday, compared with the 5.91 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York, Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler

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