Stocks rise as game makers jump

Posted: November 9, 2017 at 2:04 a.m.

NEW YORK -- U.S. stock indexes finished with small gains Wednesday as video game makers gave technology companies a boost and household goods companies also rose. However a recent decline in interest rates continued to put pressure on banks.

Grand Theft Auto and NBA2K maker Take-Two Interactive Software soared after it reported better-than-expected sales, while Activision Blizzard jumped after it said the newest Call of Duty game had a strong debut over the weekend. Technology companies rose for the tenth day in a row. Companies that make and sell household goods, such as Colgate-Palmolive and Wal-Mart, gained ground as well. Energy companies declined and banks fell again as interest rates have weakened since late October, which makes mortgages and other loans less profitable.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.74 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,594.38. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 6.13 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 23,563.36. The Nasdaq composite rose 21.34 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,789.12. All three closed at record highs. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 2.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,481.73.

It has now been a year since Donald Trump was elected president in an upset, and the S&P 500 has jumped 21 percent. That's more than stocks have risen after many recent presidential elections, although it trails the market move after Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012. Investors felt stocks would do well under a Trump administration, and so far they have, but there have been some major surprises. The biggest is that stocks in other regions, including Europe, Japan and less developed countries, have done even better.

"Investors were right to be optimistic post-election, but not because of politics," said Jason Draho, the head of American tactical asset allocation for UBS Wealth Management.

Trump and congressional Republicans haven't delivered the big infrastructure spending bill Trump proposed while campaigning, and it's not clear if they will be able to pass a tax cut that makes a real difference for the economy. But Draho said stocks keep rising because the global economy is doing so well. The economies of the 35 advanced nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are all expected to grow this year, and most are gaining steam. Meanwhile, Trump hasn't had a major effect on international trade agreements, as some investors feared.

"In some ways it's worked out better than investors have hoped," Draho said.

Technology companies have climbed almost 40 percent in the last 12 months including Wednesday's gains. Take-Two jumped after its second-quarter revenue blew past Wall Street's estimates. Analysts said its revenue from online games and digital spending was better than expected. The stock soared $11.26, or 10.6 percent, to $117.65. Activision Blizzard surged $3.59, or 5.9 percent, to $64.44 after it said revenue for Call of Duty: WWII topped $500 million in its opening weekend.

Bond prices inched lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.33 percent from 2.32 percent. Yields reached a seven-month high in late October but they have slipped since then. Investors expect interest rates to rise a bit more slowly in the future, partly because President Trump named Jay Powell as his choice for Federal Reserve chairman. Powell is expected to take a similar approach to current Fed Chairman Janet Yellen and raise rates at a gradual clip. Some of the other candidates for the job were expected to move faster.

Bank of America fell 39 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $26.79 and Comerica shed $1.02, or 1.3 percent, to $76.14. Still, banks are trading around their highest levels in a decade.

Business on 11/09/2017