By Michael Wursthorn
-- Dow Jones Industrial Average rises
-- European stocks extend winning streak
-- Treasury yields steady
McDonald's led the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher Thursday, while the S&P 500 inched up to a fresh high.
Major U.S. stock indexes are poised to post solid gains for the month and the third quarter on Friday, as investors remain largely upbeat about the health of the U.S. economy and American companies. The Dow industrials are up 2% so far in September, and are on track to log an eighth consecutive quarterly gain.
Thursday's session was a relatively muted overall, as investors picked up shares in pockets of the market that had declined recently and assessed Republicans' proposal to overhaul the tax code, analysts said.
"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.
The Dow industrials rose 40.49 points, or 0.2%, to 22381.20, while the S&P 500 added 3.02 points, or 0.1%, to 2510.06 -- its 38th record close of the year. The Nasdaq Composite added less than a point and closed at 6453.45.
McDonald's jumped $3.44, or 2.2%, to $157.49, accounting for more than half of the Dow industrials' gain. The fast-food chain's stock has been struggling this month, falling 1.6% so far, putting it on track for its first monthly decline since October of last year. The stock rallied Thursday after Longbow Research upgraded it to a "buy" from "neutral." McDonald's remains up 29% for the year so far.
Shares of material companies led the S&P 500 higher Thursday, rising 0.7% as several chemicals companies and mining firms notched gains. Freeport-McMoRan was one of the leaders, up 42 cents, or 3%, to 14.42, while Eastman Chemical rose 2.61, or 3%, to 89.96.
Utilities companies in the S&P 500 rose 0.3% after declining in seven of the previous eight sessions.
Some analysts and investors said they expect the tepid trading environment to continue until the earnings seasons kicks off in earnest next month, barring any geopolitical developments or major legislative changes. That could lead to more so-called rotational trading throughout the market, as investors sell shares that have performed well this year and buy those that have lagged behind, they added.
"There's not a whole lot of follow through on the rallies," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at R.W. Baird. "It feels like we're trading in a range of just slightly higher every time."
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.
--Riva Gold contributed to this article.
Write to Michael Wursthorn at [email protected]