S&P 500 rises above 2,500 as tech and bank stocks climb

U.S. stocks edged higher Friday as technology companies and banks rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed above 2,500 for the first time as stocks had one of their best weeks this year.

Stocks wobbled in early trading after the Commerce Department said retail sales slipped in August and the said industrial production dropped last month, mostly because of Hurricane Harvey. But big names such as Apple and took the market higher. Stocks made big gains Monday as Hurricane Irma weakened, and they didn’t do too much after that, but still wound up with their biggest weekly gain since the beginning of January.

Rick Rieder, the chief investment officer for BlackRock’s global fixed income business, said retail sales and inflation have been weak because technological changes keep lowering the prices of clothes, food, travel and phone plans. That lowers measurements of sales revenue, like the one the government released Friday, but Rieder said they keep people buying — even though the same technological changes can also lower people’s wages.

“We get everything cheaper than we used to because of the Internet and delivery mechanisms,” he said. “The price is coming down so quickly that it’s helping demand.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.61 points, or 0.2%, to a record 2,500.23. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.86 points, or 0.3%, to 22,268.34, its fourth record-high close in a row. The Nasdaq composite rose 19.38 points, or 0.3%, to 6,448.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 6.69 points, or 0.5%, to 1,431.71.

Industrial production in the U.S. fell 0.9% in August, the biggest drop in eight years, as Harvey knocked numerous oil refining, plastics and chemical factories offline for a time. Many of those factories are based in the Gulf Coast region that Harvey hit. The Federal Reserve said the weather and flooding was responsible for almost all the loss.

Apple ticked up 1% to $159.88 after three days of declines. Hard drive maker Western Digital climbed 3.2% to $88.52, and chipmaker Nvidia jumped 6.3% to $180.11.

Oracle, however, slid 7.7% to $48.74 — its biggest drop in four years. The software maker’s first-quarter profit and sales were better than investors expected, but analysts were concerned about forecasts for its cloud computing business.

Boeing rose 1.5% to $249, continuing to set record highs. The aerospace company is up 60% in 2017.

Stocks in the Britain slumped to a four-month low, and the pound rose to its highest level since mid-2016, after Bank of England officials confirmed they are close to raising interest rates for the first time in a decade. The first step could happen as soon as November. Many companies on the British FTSE 100 are multinationals whose overseas earnings are diminished in value when the pound appreciates against other currencies.

The pound surged to $1.3571 from $1.3398, its highest since mid-2016. The FTSE 100 fell 1.1%; on Thursday, it also fell 1.1%.

British stocks did not appear to be affected by a bomb attack on a London subway train. Police said an improvised explosive device hurt more than 20 people, but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Credit monitoring companies continued to fall as Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would prevent the companies from charging fees to consumers who want their credit frozen. In many states, the companies collect fees in return for freezing accounts.

Some people have chosen to freeze their credit after Equifax said the personal information of 143 million Americans was exposed after a breach of its systems. They are trying to prevent identity thieves from using their information to open fraudulent accounts.

Equifax fell 3.8% to a two-year low of $92.98. The stock began plunging last week after the company disclosed the breach, and this week it took its biggest weekly loss since 1998. Its rival TransUnion fell 3.4% to $41.61 on Friday, and Experian fell 0.9% in London.

Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.20% from 2.19%. Interest rates also rose, helping banks, which stand to make more money from lending.

U.S. crude oil stayed at $49.89 a barrel in New York. It’s at its highest price since the end of July. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 15 cents to $55.62 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.66 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.80 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5 cents to $3.02 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $4.10 to $1,325.20 an ounce. Silver fell 9 cents to $17.70 an ounce. Copper fell 1 cent to $2.95 a pound.

The dollar rose to 110.88 yen from 110.54 yen. The euro rose to $1.1938 from $1.1914.

Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 both lost 0.2%. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.5%. South Korea’s Kospi recouped initial losses to end up 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.1%.


2:20 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices and context.

10 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 6:55 a.m.

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