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

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10/04/2017 | 07:25pm CET
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, putting major stock indexes on track to extend recent winning streaks.

E-commerce firms like Netflix and Amazon.com have been among the market's best performers this year, helping to power U.S. stocks to fresh all-time highs despite concerns about their valuations and rapid rise. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite each set at least 40 all-time highs this year.

"Valuations are higher, but the fundamentals look really good still," said Paul Quinsee, global head of equities at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, of outperforming internet stocks. "Compared to the speed of profitability growth, we think valuations make sense," he said.

The Dow industrials inched up 35 points, or 0.2%, to 22676. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.1%. All three indexes turned positive after being down earlier in Wednesday's session.

Netflix was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500, rising 3.1% 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 2.5%. Shares of Amazon.com edged up 0.9%.

PepsiCo shares swung after the food and beverage giant reported weaker-than-expected sales in the most recent quarter. Shares rose 0.5%, paring earlier losses after falling as much as 2.7% earlier in the session.

Shares of Mylan climbed 19% after the company said it received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to offer generic versions of Copaxone, Teva Pharmaceutical's multiple sclerosis treatment.

U.S. economic data was mixed Wednesday. 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 2.337%, 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 2.9% 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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