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U.S. Stocks Inch Higher, Led by Internet Retailers

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10/04/2017 | 05:57pm CEST
By Riva Gold and Amrith Ramkumar 
   -- Internet retailers rise, led by Netflix 
 
   -- Dollar, bond yields lower 
 
   -- Spain weighs down European stocks 

Shares of internet retailers rose Wednesday, helping to offset declines elsewhere in U.S. stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 30 points, or 0.1%, to 22673. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.1%. All three indexes have risen to fresh records this week, but swung between small gains and losses Wednesday.

Since profit growth has been one of the main factors driving this year's rally, investors are waiting to see if October earnings reports remain robust. The Dow industrials, S&P 500 and Nasdaq have each set at least 40 all-time highs in 2017.

"When we've had such a strong move with so few setbacks, then people get a little bit more nervous, which is completely understandable," said Paul Quinsee, global head of equities at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Still, Mr. Quinsee said the earnings and economic backdrop for stocks remains favorable heading into the rest of the year.

Netflix was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500, rising 3.3% after UBS raised its price target on the stock. The bank raised its subscriber-growth projections for the streaming giant, noting that the previous quarter's momentum likely continued.

Other internet retailers also rose, with TripAdvisor shares climbing 3%. Shares of e-commerce giant Amazon.com edged up 0.8%.

PepsiCo shares swung after the food and beverage giant reported weaker-than-expected sales in the most recent quarter. Shares fell 0.2%, paring earlier losses after falling as much as 2.7% earlier in the session.

Wednesday's muted market moves came after mixed economic readings. First, a report showed hiring at private U.S. employers grew less than expected last month, with hurricanes denting economic growth. Then, the Institute for Supply Management said its index measuring service-sector activity rose to its highest level since 2005. Investors will be closely monitoring Friday's monthly jobs report for another reading on the economy.

Traders were also awaiting a speech from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, expected later Wednesday, for clues about the central bank's latest views on sluggish inflation.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note edged up to 2.343%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.332% Tuesday. Yields rise as prices fall. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, inched down 0.1%.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1% after rising for nine straight sessions -- the longest run since July 2015.

Spain's IBEX 35 index led global declines -- falling 3% to extend this week's losses -- as investors continued to weigh the implications of escalating tensions around Catalonia. The king of Spain accused Catalan leaders of pushing the country toward a constitutional crisis Tuesday, with the region's officials pledging to declare independence within days. Shares of Catalonia's largest banks and Spanish bonds fell, with some worried about possible negative credit implications for Spain.

"Catalonia is such an integral part of the overall economy," said Patrick O'Donnell, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments. Still, he doesn't see an immediate spillover to other assets across Europe because the situation doesn't pose an existential threat to the eurozone.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.7% to its highest close since April 2015, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.1% to post its highest close since August 2015.

Write to Riva Gold at [email protected]

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