S&P 500 tops 2,500 mark as tech and bank stocks climb

U.S. stocks edged higher Friday as technology companies and banks rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed above 2,500 for the first time as stocks had one of their best weeks this year.

Stocks wobbled in early trading after the Commerce Department said retail sales slipped in August and the Federal Reserve said industrial production dropped last month, mostly because of Hurricane Harvey. But big names like Apple and Boeing took the market higher. Stocks made big gains Monday and as Hurricane Irma weakened, and they didn’t do too much after that, but still wound up with their biggest weekly gain since the beginning of January.

Rick Rieder, the chief investment officer for BlackRock’s global fixed income business, said retail sales and inflation have been weak because technological changes keep reducing the prices of clothes, food, travel, and phone plans. That lowers measurements of sales revenue, like the one the government released Friday, but Rieder said they keep people buying — even though the same technological changes can also lower people’s wages.

“We get everything cheaper than we used to because of the internet and delivery mechanisms,” he said. “The price is coming down so quickly that it’s helping demand.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 4.61 points, or 0.2 percent, to a record 2,500.23. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.86 points, or 0.3 percent, to 22,268.34, its fourth record close in a row. The Nasdaq composite added 19.38 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,448.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 6.69 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,431.71.

Industrial production in the U.S. fell 0.9 percent in August, the biggest drop in eight years, as Harvey knocked numerous oil refining, plastics and chemicals factories out of business for a time. Many of those factories are based in the Gulf Coast region that Harvey hit. The Federal Reserve said the weather and flooding was responsible for almost all of the loss.

Apple picked up $1.60, or 1 percent, to $159.88 after three days of declines. Chipmaker Nvidia jumped $10.71, or 6.3 percent, to $180.11 and hard drive maker Western Digital gained $2.73, or 3.2 percent, to $88.52.

However shares of software maker Oracle absorbed their biggest loss in four years. The company’s first-quarter profit and sales were better than investors expected, but analysts were concerned about forecasts for its cloud computing business. Oracle lost $4.05, or 7.7 percent, to…

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