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Tech Stocks Lift Nasdaq, S&P 500 to New Heights

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01/03/2018 | 04:28pm CEST
By Mike Bird and Kenan Machado 

Technology firms led major U.S. stock indexes higher Wednesday, a day after the Nasdaq Composite closed above 7,000 for the first time.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 46 points, or 0.2%, to 24870 shortly after the opening bell. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% from its latest all-time high and the Nasdaq climbed 0.3%.

Highflying semiconductor stocks have boosted the broader technology sector to start 2018, after the PHLX Semiconductor Index added nearly 40% last year. The makers of computer chips used in everything from smartphones to self-driving cars have gotten a boost recently from a Semiconductor Industry Association report that showed a 21.5% increase in world-wide chip sales in November from the same month a year earlier.

Advanced Micro Devices added 5.4%, while Nvidia climbed 3.7%, extending Tuesday's gains. Meantime, Intel shares fell 2.1% after British publication The Register reported that some Intel processors have a fundamental design flaw that would require a significant security update of Linux and Windows operating systems.

Corporate news drove swings among individual stocks.

Scana shares climbed 22% after Dominion Energy said it has struck a deal to buy the troubled energy firm in an all-stock transaction valued at about $7.66 billion and absorb some of the costs of Scana's failed South Carolina nuclear project. Dominion Energy shares declined 4.3%.

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals rose 2.2% following the firm's announcement that it paid down an additional $300 million in debt with cash on hand.

Investors were awaiting minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting, scheduled to be released later Wednesday. The central bank raised rates for a third time in 2017 at the meeting and stuck to its projections for three more increases this year. Some analysts have said they would be parsing the Fed's discussion of muted inflation and its assessment of how tax changes could impact the economy.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.442%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.465% Tuesday. Yields fall as bond prices rise. The 10-year yield has rebounded from its September lows, when it fell as low as 2.03%.

"People really need to pay attention to what bond markets are telling you," said Stephen Macklow-Smith, head of Europe equity strategy at J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management. "We're in an environment where central banks are starting to retreat from outright monetary stimulus."

The dollar steadied after falling for a seventh straight session Tuesday, with the WSJ Dollar Index -- which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others -- up 0.1% from its lowest level since September.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.4%, helped by a 1.7% rise in European technology sector. The euro fell 0.3% against the dollar, after hitting its highest closing price in three years Tuesday. Some investors expect the euro to continue strengthening on the back of unexpectedly strong economic conditions.

"Europe continues to enjoy the most important growth acceleration that we've seen in over a decade," said Alessio DeLongis, portfolio manager at OppenheimerFunds.

"We think it's an environment that's conducive to inflows into Europe, into equities particularly, and therefore into the euro," he added.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.6%, climbing for the fourth straight session. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 0.1% -- its highest close in more than a decade. Japanese markets were closed and won't open for their first day of trading in 2018 until Thursday.

-- Amrith Ramkumar contributed to this article.

Write to Mike Bird at [email protected] and Kenan Machado at [email protected]

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP -0.57% 2798.13 End-of-day quote.-15.57%
DJ INDUSTRIAL 0.22% 25119.89 Delayed Quote.1.62%
HANG SENG -0.21% 28122.75 Real-time Quote.-4.68%
NASDAQ 100 0.63% 7403.8914 Delayed Quote.15.31%
NASDAQ COMP. 0.63% 7855.1179 Delayed Quote.13.36%
S&P 500 0.40% 2809.55 Real-time Quote.4.67%
US DOLLAR INDEX 0.47% 94.95 End-of-day quote.3.37%
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