Wall Street Boosted by Energy, Defensive Sectors, Tech Falls

NEW YORK — The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose on Monday, as oil prices lifted energy stocks and defensive sectors such as utilities and real estate were in demand as investors were cautious about Iran sanctions and U.S. congressional elections.

The energy sector, which has lagged the broader S&P 500 this year, was up 1.6 percent after the United States imposed a range of punitive sanctions on Iran, lifting oil prices. [O/R]

“Anytime utilities and consumer staples are up that’s a little fear … it’s the Iran sanctions poking a stick at a part of the world that’s famous for not being amenable to that,” said Kim Forrest, senior portfolio manager at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

Investor aversion to risk the day before U.S. mid-term elections also helped to put pressure on sectors such as technology, communications services and consumer discretionary.

“Regardless of your political bent you don’t know what’s going to happen on Tuesday that’s going to affect the next few years so you’re going for safety,” said Forrest.

Opinion polls showed a strong chance of President Donald Trump’s Republican Party holding the Senate but losing control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats – a potential hurdle to Trump’s pro-business agenda, which has been a major driver of the stock market’s rally since the 2016 election.

At 2:43PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 201.78 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,472.61, the S&P 500 gained 17.2 points, or 0.63 percent, to 2,740.26 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 28.27 points, or 0.38 percent, to 7,328.72.

Among the S&P 500’s 11 major sector indexes, the real estate sector was up 1.9 percent making it the biggest percentage gainer. Utilities rose 1.3 percent while consumer staples was up 1.2 percent.

A 3 percent drop in Apple shares

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