Stocks Move Mostly Higher, Nasdaq Outperforms

Stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Wednesday following the lackluster performance seen in the previous session.

The major averages all closed in positive territory, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq outperformed its counterparts. While the Nasdaq jumped 73.10 points or 1.2 percent to 6,453.26, the Dow rose 56.39 points or 0.3 percent to 22,340.71 and the S&P 500 climbed 10.20 points or 0.4 percent to 2,507.04.

The strength on Wall Street was partly due to a positive reaction to the release of a Republican tax reform plan, which calls for a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.

Buying interest was also generated by a report from the Commerce Department showing a bigger than expected jump in durable goods orders in the month of August.

The report said durable goods orders surged up by 1.7 percent in August after plunging by 6.8 percent in July. Economists had expected orders to climb by 1.0 percent.

Excluding an increase in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders edged up by 0.2 percent in August after climbing by 0.8 percent in July. The uptick matched economist estimates.

The Commerce Department also said orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, an indicator of business spending, rose by 0.9 percent in August after climbing by 1.1 percent in July.

Michael Pearce, U.S. economist at Capital Economics said the data suggests that business equipment investment is set for another big gain in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the National Association of Realtors showed a steep drop in pending home sales in the month of August.

NAR said its pending home sales index plunged by 2.6 percent to 106.3 in August from 109.1 in July. The index had been expected to dip by 0.5 percent.

With the much bigger than expected decrease, the pending home sales index dropped to its lowest reading since hitting 106.1 in January of 2016.

A pending home sale is one in which a contract was signed but not yet closed. Normally, it takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.

Sector News

Semiconductor stocks showed a significant move to the upside on the day, driving the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up by 2.4 percent.

Micron Technology (MU) led the semiconductor sector higher after reporting better than expected fourth quarter results and providing upbeat guidance.

Considerable strength was also visible among financial stocks, with the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index and the Dow Jones Banks Index…

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