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Solid earnings nudge US stocks further into record heights

Technology and health care companies helped push stocks higher on Wall Street Tuesday, nudging major indexes to new highs.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% and notched its second all-time high in two days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose less than 0.1%, good enough for its third straight record high. The Nasdaq also edged up less than 0.1%.

Trading was choppy and lost some momentum toward the end of the day as investors continued to review mostly solid company earnings and encouraging reports on consumer confidence and new U.S. home sales.

Solid earnings reports helped lift several major companies. UPS jumped 6.9% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 as higher shipping rates helped the package delivery service easily beat analyst’s third-quarter profit forecasts. Hasbro rose 3.2% after the maker of Transformers, My Little Pony and other toys reported solid financial results.

Stocks have been pushing broadly higher as companies turn in much stronger profit reports for the summer than analysts had expected.

“Right now, valuations are high and the market needs some reassurance from corporate earnings,” said Ernesto Ramos, chief investment officer in the U.S. for BMO Global Asset Management. “There are still plenty of risks out there, but the market is focusing on the good things right now.”

The S&P 500 rose 8.31 points to 4,574.79. The benchmark index has posted three weekly gains in a row and leads the other major indexes with a 21.8% gain this year. The Dow added 15.73 points to 35,756.88, while the Nasdaq inched up 9.01 points to 15,235.71.

Small company stocks fell. The Russell 2000 index lost 16.56 points, or 0.7%, to 2,296.08.

Technology stocks did much of the heavy lifting for the broader market. Chipmaker Nvidia led the way with a 6.7% gain. Health care stocks and a mix of companies that rely on consumer spending for goods and services also made solid gains. UnitedHealth Group rose 1.2% and Amazon.com rose 1.7%.

Only communications and industrial stocks fell. Facebook slid 3.9% after giving investors a weak sales forecast. The company is also facing scrutiny over its seemingly lax regulation of harmful and misleading information on its platform.

Bond yields were mixed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 1.61% from 1.63% from late Monday.

Investors received several encouraging economic updates on Tuesday. U.S. consumer confidence rose in October after three straight declines as the public’s anxiety about the delta variant of the coronavirus appear to have abated. New home sales jumped 14% in September to the fastest pace in six months as strong demand helped offset rising prices.

The broader market also welcomed signals that big spending plans in Washington and potential tax increases for companies will likely be diluted, Ramos said.

Wall Street is still concerned about how much of an impact supply chain problems will have on a wide range of industries. Many companies have already warned about higher costs cutting into operations.

Paint maker Sherwin-Williams rose 2% even though its latest results revealed that higher raw materials costs crimped its finances.

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