The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average rose on Wednesday, with the Dow hitting its highest closing level since late January as rising Treasury yields raised the financial sector and trade worries subsided. The tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the session slightly lower.
Financial sector companies rose 1.8 percent, making that group as a whole the largest percentage gainer among the major S&P 500 sectors, due in part to the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield reaching a four-month high.
Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America ended the session up between 2.6 and 3.3 percent.
Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, seven ended in negative territory. So-called defensive stocks lost ground as rising yields provided investors with an attractive alternative to higher-risk equities. The utilities sector was the major loser, falling 2.1 percent.
The technology sector index edged 0.1 percent lower, pulled down by a 1.3 percent decline in Microsoft. The company raised its quarterly dividend on Tuesday by about 10 percent, but Morgan Stanley said the hike was below the company’s 12-month trailing operating income growth.
Amazon fell 0.8 percent as European Union regulators investigated whether the largest online retailer was using merchant data to stifle competition.
Among the other components of the FAANG group of stocks, Netflix was down slightly. Facebook chalked up a gain of 1.7 percent, while Apple and Alphabet had nominal gains.
In the latest round of tit-for-tat exchanges in the trade dispute between the United States and China, Premier Li Keqiang dismissed talk that Beijing is deliberately weakening its currency to bolster exports.
Approximately 6.52 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.23 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.