Stocks Up as Bond Yields Move Higher

By Riva Gold and Michael Wursthorn Features Dow Jones Newswires

Dow Jones Industrial Average rises

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-- European stocks extend winning streak

-- Treasury yields keep climbing

U.S. stocks seesawed Thursday, as rising shares of chemical and health-care companies helped support major indexes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was recently up 35 points, or 0.2%, to 22376, while the S&P 500 rose less than 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.2%.

Overall moves were muted as investors took advantage of some recent pullbacks and gauged the likelihood that Republicans would pass their proposal to overhaul the tax code, analysts said. The S&P 500 continued its trend of trading in a narrow range.

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"It's likely we'll see some of that churning in a directionless market while the specifics of the [tax] legislation are debated," said Mike Allison, an Eaton Vance portfolio manager.

Shares of material companies rose 0.6% in the S&P 500, as several chemical firms notched gains of more than 1%. Eastman Chemical was one of the leaders, up 2.7%.

Health-care stocks rose 0.3%, with drug company AbbVie rising roughly 6% after it resolved an intellectual-property lawsuit with Amgen regarding AbbVie's arthritis drug Humira. Amgen rose 0.8%.

Tech and financial shares gave back some of the gains that had helped lift indexes higher Wednesday, ending a four-session losing streak for the Dow industrials. Shares of smaller companies slipped, after they had rallied a day earlier following the release of the tax proposal.

While the plan unveiled Wednesday is expected to benefit smaller companies that tend to generate more revenue domestically, some analysts expressed skepticism that Republicans would be able to push the plan through unaltered, especially after the GOP faltered in its latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"We need to wait and see how much of this will be implemented and what kind of reaction the Fed will have," said Luca Paolini, chief strategist at Pictet Asset Management.

Republicans are proposing to sharply reduce tax rates on business and many individuals, prompting investors to sell bonds partly on expectations that the cut would boost growth and accelerate the Federal Reserve's plans to lift interest rates.

Meanwhile, fresh data pointed to steady U.S. economic growth, which could encourage the Fed to proceed with a third rate increase later this year.

U.S. economic output grew at a 3.1% annual rate in the second quarter, slightly stronger than previously thought and marking the best growth in two years, according to revised data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.

The number of Americans applying for new unemployment benefits rose last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, at least partially reflecting job losses because of major summer storms. Still, overall jobless claims remain historically low.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.326%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.309% Wednesday, when it notched its biggest daily gain since March. Yields rise as prices fall.

Investors have been stepping up bets that the Fed will raise interest rates in December following speeches from Fed officials earlier this week, which has contributed to the rise in government bond yields.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies, swung between small gains and losses Thursday after its biggest three-day gain this year, and was recently down 0.2%.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.2%. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average added 0.5%, recovering from Wednesday's declines, while Chinese markets faced selling pressure ahead of a week-long break. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.8% to a six-week low.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com and Michael Wursthorn at Michael.Wursthorn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 28, 2017 12:36 ET (16:36 GMT)