The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

July 31, 2013

Better US economic growth, earnings drive stocks

NEW YORK — Steady growth in the U.S. economy and higher company earnings are pushing the stock market higher in early trading.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.7 percent from April through June as businesses spent more and the federal government cut less spending, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists had expected growth of 1 percent for the period, according to data provider FactSet.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 56 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,577 after the first 45 minutes of trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose six points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,691. The Nasdaq composite gained 18 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,634.

The reaction to the government’s report was stronger in the bond market. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.69 percent from 2.61 percent the day before, and is close to its highest level in two years. The note’s yield, which moves inversely to its price, has risen this year on signs that the economy is improving.

Investors tend to sell ultra-safe U.S. government bonds, forcing yields to go higher, when they anticipate a pickup in economic growth. Investors are also expecting that improving U.S. growth will prompt the Federal Reserve to ease back on its huge bond-buying program.

Investors were waiting for word from the Fed later Wednesday. The U.S. central bank will release an updated policy statement after concluding its latest two-day meeting.

The central bank is buying $85 billion of bonds a month to keep long-term interest rates low. That stimulus has been a major support for a rally that has pushed stocks to record levels this year.

In commodities trading, the price of oil was little changed at $103.04 a barrel. Gold dropped $8.90, or 0.7 percent, to $1,316 an ounce.

Among stocks making big moves:

— MasterCard rose $19.74, or 3.3 percent, to $621 after the payment processing company reported a 19 percent increase in second-quarter profit as more people worldwide used its debit and credit cards.

— Air Products & Chemicals rose $3.38, or 3.2 percent, after the Wall Street journal reported that activist investor William Ackman had bought a 9.8 percent stake in the gas company.

—Symantec surged $2.11, or 8.7 percent, to $26.48 after the company, which makes the Norton antivirus software, reported earnings and revenue that beat analysts’ forecasts.

 

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