Stocks Edge Up, Led by Real Estate, Utilities

By Amrith RamkumarFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

U.S. stocks inch higher

-- Trading volumes remain muted

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-- 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 U.S. stock indexes had fallen in two consecutive sessions entering Wednesday, with volumes muted around the Christmas and New Year's Day 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.

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

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 28.09 points, or 0.1%, to 24774.30. The S&P 500 rose 2.12 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2682.62, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 3.09 points, or less than 0.1%, to 6939.34. All three indexes swung between small gains and losses most of the day before settling higher. Trading was again muted, with the second-fewest shares changing hands of any full day this year.

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 0.4%.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note settled at 2.412%, down from 2.467% on Tuesday -- its largest one-day drop since September. 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 early gains and closed down 5 cents, or 0.3%, at $17.38 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 5.65, or 1.8%, to 311.64 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 26 cents, or 0.1%, to 295.62 after Morocco's Royal Air Maroc said it ordered four 787-9 Dreamliners, valued at $1.1 billion at list prices, from the aerospace giant.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 closed up less than 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 18:16 ET (23:16 GMT)