Urban Outfitters, Target soar in early trading
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U.S. stocks traded tepidly higher on Wednesday, putting the Dow on track for its fourth straight daily rise, though traders were taking a cautious approach ahead of the latest Federal Reserve minutes, which could indicate whether more rate increases are coming this year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 62 points, or 0.3%, to 22,061, with Home Depot Inc. (HD) and Johnson & Johnson(JNJ) helping to support the blue-chip gauge. The S&P 500 rose about 5 points to 2,470, a rise of 0.2%, with financials among those sector leading the charge. The technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Index added 10 points, or 0.2%, to 6,343.
Recent trading has had an upward bias, even given an uncertain geopolitical environment that pressured stocks last week. The Dow has risen in 14 of the past 17 sessions, including Wednesday, and major indexes are within striking distance of record levels.
"The geopolitical tensions have begun to subside, and with an upside surprise in U.S. data yesterday there has been a more positive sentiment coming through the markets," wrote Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.
The day's gains were broad, with nine of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors higher on the day. The biggest decliners were energy, off 0.2%, and telecommunications, down about 0.1%. The biggest gainers on the day included materials, up 0.6%, and health care and financials, both of which were up 0.4%.
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U.S. stocks closed mixed on Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-eye-opening-gains-as-north-korea-pulls-back-on-guam-threat-2017-08-15), with the Dow average ending slightly higher for a third straight session, though the S&P 500 index and Nasdaq Composite Index finishing with small losses. The mixed session came after retail sales beat forecasts and as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea eased after Kim Jong Un decided not to launch a threatened missile attack on Guam.
Fed minutes in focus: Wednesday's main event is the release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's July meeting, which are due at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Investors will watch the minutes for any insight into when the Fed may next raise interest rates, how many rate hikes can be expected over the rest of 2017, and any commentary on inflation.
Traders on the federal-funds futures market have this week ramped up their bets for one more rate hike this year to above 50% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/traders-lift-bets-on-one-more-rate-hike-this-year-up-above-50-2017-08-15), compared with 37.4% on Friday, according to CME Group data.
The shift in sentiment comes after better-than-expected data and Fed President Dudley's comments on Monday suggesting he would not rule out a rate hike for this year.
Also on Wednesday, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will sit down with reporters, including MarketWatch, to talk about the economy and monetary policy at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
In the latest economic data, housing starts fell 5.6% in July (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/housing-starts-stumble-in-july-as-new-home-construction-churns-gradually-higher-2017-08-16), compared with the year-ago period, and they were off 4.8% from June's pace. The results were worse than expected; however, new-home construction continues to grind slowly and steadily higher, supporting a gradually improving housing market.
See:MarketWatch's economic calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)
Stock movers: Shares of Urban Outfitters Inc.(URBN) soared 22% after the retailer late Tuesday reported earnings that easily beat estimates (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/urban-outfitters-shares-rally-after-sales-earnings-beat-2017-08-15).
Agilent Technologies Inc.(A) also reported profit above forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/agilent-shares-rise-more-than-4-after-company-reports-sales-eps-above-forecast-2017-08-15), sending shares 4.2% higher as the biggest percentage gainer among S&P 500 components.
Target Corp. (TGT) rose 2.9% after the retailer reported an increase in same-store sales (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/target-sees-sales-growth-as-it-plans-store-refresh-2017-08-16-74853019) and lifted its full-year adjusted profit outlook.
In other earnings on Wednesday, Cisco Systems Inc.(CSCO) and NetApp Inc. (NTAP) are scheduled to report after the market closes. Both stocks were about 0.5% higher in early trading.
On the downside, Netflix Inc. (NFLX) fell 0.9% as the biggest decliner among S&P components, while Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) was off 0.6%. Both have been among the biggest year-to-date gainers in 2017, raising concerns over valuation and sparking frequent bouts of profit-taking.
Other markets:Asian markets closed mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-take-a-breather-after-early-week-rebound-2017-08-15), while European stocks headed higher for a third straight day (http://www.marketwatch.com/topics/columns/europe-markets).
The ICE Dollar Index on Wednesday morning was 0.2% higher at 93.995 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-steady-ahead-of-fed-minutes-pound-firms-after-jobless-data-2017-08-16).
The euro fell to $1.1725 from $1.1736 late Tuesday in New York, after Reuters reported that European Central Bank President Mario Draghi won't deliver a fresh policy message at the Fed's Jackson Hole conference next week.
Markets had started to expect the ECB boss would use the opportunity to take a more hawkish stance toward monetary policy.
Oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-rise-on-hopes-for-another-big-drop-in-us-inventories-2017-08-16) rose 0.4% after the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday said U.S. inventories fell 9.2 million barrels last week. Gold fell.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 16, 2017 10:00 ET (14:00 GMT)