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Stocks Finish Mixed, Bond Yields Surge 09/19 16:02

   Major U.S. stock indexes wavered between small gains and losses in early 
trading Wednesday. 

   (AP) -- Major U.S. stock indexes finished unevenly Wednesday as gains in 
banks and other financial companies outweighed losses elsewhere in the market.

   Bond yields surged to the highest level in four months. That drove demand 
for bank stocks and triggered a sell-off in utilities, real estate companies 
and other high-dividend payers.

   Energy stocks rose along with crude oil prices. Homebuilders declined 
following a mixed batch of housing data.

   The surge in bond yields reflected the belief on the part of many investors 
that the economy is strengthening, noted Craig Birk, chief investment officer 
at Personal Capital.

   "If the economy continues to move forward then interest rates have more room 
to creep higher and the Fed has more room to continue raising (short-term 
rates)," he said.

   The S&P 500 index rose 3.64 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,907.95. The Dow 
Jones Industrial Average gained 158.80 points, or 0.6 percent, to 26,405.76. 
The Nasdaq composite lost 6.07 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,950.04.

   Smaller companies lagged the broader market. The Russell 2000 index gave up 
8.04 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,702.93. Decliners outnumbered gainers on the 
New York Stock Exchange.

   Trading was listless through much of Wednesday. The slight gains for the S&P 
500, the market's benchmark index, added to a solid rally a day earlier, when 
investors shrugged off initial jitters over the latest escalation in the trade 
dispute between the U.S. and China.

   Headlines and speculation about the trade dispute took a backseat Wednesday 
to the surge in bond yields.

   Bond prices fell, driving the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 3.07 percent 
from 3.04 percent late Tuesday. That's the highest level since May 22.

   When yields rise they force interest rates on mortgages and other loans 
higher, making it more profitable for banks to lend money. The higher bond 
yields drove up shares in banks and other financial stocks. Citigroup climbed 
3.3 percent to $73.72.

   New housing data weighed on homebuilder stocks. The Commerce Department said 
residential construction rebounded in August at the fastest pace in seven 
months. However, applications for new building permits, a forward-looking 
indicator, plunged. Homebuilders declined, giving up early gains. William Lyon 
Homes slid 3.4 percent to $18.65.

   "As we're watching the data unfold here in the third quarter we think we may 
be, if not already passed the peak, passing the peak in terms of the economic 
acceleration here domestically," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist 
at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "You look at the housing data from today and 
there's some signs of that."

   A pickup in crude oil prices helped send energy stocks higher. Newfield 
Exploration gained 4.4 percent to $28.91.

   Oil prices rose on data showing U.S. crude oil inventories fell last week 
and are now running at about 3 percent below the five-year average for this 
time of year.

   All told, benchmark U.S. crude climbed 1.8 percent to settle at $71.12 a 
barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 0.5 
percent to close at $79.40 a barrel in London.

   Traders bid up shares in Fitbit after the maker of wearable exercise 
trackers launched a platform that offers personalized coaching. The company 
also announced a partnership with Humana to potentially give the insurer's 5 
million members access to the platform. Fitbit gained 5.3 percent to $6.11.

   Praxair climbed 3.9 percent to $164.37 on news reports that the industrial 
gases company is moving closer to U.S. antitrust approval of its merger with 
Germany's Linde.

   Copart slumped 13.4 percent to $55.58 after the operator of online vehicle 
auctions reported earnings that fell short of analysts' estimates.

   The dollar fell to 112.27 yen from 112.35 yen on Tuesday. The euro 
strengthened to $1.1674 from $1.1667.

   Gold rose 0.4 percent to $1,208.30 an ounce. Silver gained 0.7 percent to 
$14.28 an ounce. Copper was little changed at $2.73 a pound.

   In other energy trading, heating oil rose 0.5 percent to $2.25 a gallon, 
wholesale gasoline picked up 0.8 percent to $2.02 a gallon and natural gas fell 
0.9 percent to $2.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.

   Major stock indexes in Europe finished higher. Germany's DAX gained 0.5 
percent, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.4 

   In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.1 percent, while Australia's 
S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.2 percent. South 
Korea's Kospi finished virtually unchanged. 


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