Stocks Edge Up, Led by Real Estate, Utilities

By Amrith Ramkumar Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. stocks inch higher

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-- Trading volumes remain muted

-- Falling government bond yields boost real estate, utilities

The S&P 500 inched higher in quiet trading Wednesday, boosted by shares of real-estate and utility companies.

Major indexes had fallen in two straight sessions entering Wednesday, with volumes muted around the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Some analysts have said investors are still weighing the impact of recently passed tax changes on the economy, leading to a pause in this year's rally. The S&P 500 is up 20% for the year and 1.3% in December.

"In this quiet week, it's hard to detect new trends, but it does appear that people are willing to wait and see a little bit," said Paul Christopher, head of global market strategy for Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

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Still, Mr. Christopher said the earnings and economic backdrop remains favorable for stocks heading into 2018.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 15 points, or less than 0.1%, to 24761 after paring earlier losses. The S&P 500 rose less than 0.1%, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed less than 0.1%. All three indexes swung between small gains and losses.

Real-estate and utility shares advanced as government bond yields fell for a second consecutive day. Those sectors, known as bond proxies because they tend to pay hefty dividends, had sold off in recent sessions as yields had climbed. Both S&P 500 groupings added at least 0.3%.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.412%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.467% on Tuesday. Yields fall as prices rise. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 others, was down 0.2%.

Corporate news also drove some of the day's larger moves.

Shares of General Electric pared earlier gains and were recently down 0.3% following the industrial conglomerate's announcement that it is increasing its ownership in Sweden's Arcam, which develops electron-beam melting machines for manufacturing and produces advanced metal powders.

Tesla shares fell 1.7% after KeyBanc Capital Markets analysts said in a note to clients that they expect fewer Model 3 deliveries for the current quarter than previously anticipated, based on conversations with Tesla salespeople across the U.S. On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased details for a pickup truck that would challenge Ford Motor and others, though he was vague about his intentions.

Boeing shares added less than 0.1% after Morocco's Royal Air Maroc said it ordered four 787-9 Dreamliners from the aerospace giant valued at $1.1 billion at list prices.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 pared earlier losses and closed up 0.1% as regional markets reopened from a holiday, supported by gains in the basic resources, real-estate and oil-and-gas sectors. Oil and copper have hit fresh multiyear highs recently, lifted by supply disruptions.

Technology stocks fell in Asia, a day after shares of Apple and some of its suppliers dragged down major U.S. indexes in a fall analysts attributed to reports that the company is considering cutting its first-quarter sales forecast for its iPhone X. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.9%, while South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.4%.

Riva Gold and Kenan Machado contributed to this article.

Write to Amrith Ramkumar at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 27, 2017 14:50 ET (19:50 GMT)