S&P, Nasdaq climb on retail, chip gains

2/2 © Reuters. Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York 2/2

By Stephen Culp

(Reuters) – Retail and technology stocks led Wall Street back to positive territory on Wednesday, and the small-cap hit a new intra-day high, even as traders remained on edge about geopolitics and rising U.S. interest rates.

Smaller companies continued to outperform their larger rivals with the Russell 2000 reaching a record level. The index was last up 1.3 percent.

“Small caps present a cleaner play than large caps on two fundamental market drivers: lower corporate taxes and a stronger US economy,” research firm DataTrek wrote in its morning briefing on Wednesday.

Macy’s (N:) shares were up 11.2 percent after beating analyst estimates and raising guidance. The S&P 500 Department Store index <.SPLRCRETD> was up 5.4 percent, its largest daily gain in nearly six months.

Rival department stores J.C. Penney (N:), Kohl’s (N:), Nordstrom (N:) and Target Corp (N:) were also boosted by the results.

Macy’s earnings pushed the consumer discretionary sector higher on Wednesday, a day after government data showing an acceleration of consumer spending fanned inflation concerns and helped send U.S. government bond yields higher.

Yields on U.S. Treasuries were little changed with 10-year bonds near a 7-year peak, continuing to pressure stocks as investors consider whether U.S. bonds pose a more attractive option to riskier equities.

“I think bonds are almost becoming an attractive alternative to equities,” said David Carter chief investment officer, Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York. “Not yet, in our opinion, but as yields continue to rise, we may get there soon.”

Weeks of diplomatic progress were thrown into doubt when North Korea postponed high-level talks with Seoul and threatened to pull out of its historic meeting with the United States.

The uncertainty compounded investor jitters ahead

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