US stocks move higher as market extends a winning streak

Posted on Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 By Damian J. Troise And Alex Veiga, AP Business Writers

U.S. stocks moved modestly higher in afternoon trading Tuesday as the market extended a winning streak well into a second week.

Health care stocks, technology companies and retailers notched some of the biggest gains.

DaVita led the health sector higher, climbing 3.8 percent. Cigna added 3.1 percent. Chipmakers also posted solid gains. Advanced Micro Devices vaulted 10.9 percent and Nvidia climbed 4.9 percent. Retailer L Brands added 2.6 percent, while Amazon rose 2 percent.

Utility and financial stocks were among the big decliners. Fifth Third Bancorp dropped 2.4 percent and FirstEnergy slid 2.1 percent.

The broader market broke out of a short slump last week and has been gaining since then. It marks a turnaround from a terrifying drop in December, and now every major U.S. index is up more than 11 percent for the year.

A major focal point of the week for investors is the outcome of the Federal Reserve's meeting on Wednesday. The central bank has signaled that it will be "patient" in raising interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 55 points, or 0.2 percent, to 26,969 as of 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The S&P 500 index gained 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq composite climbed 0.5 percent.

Major indexes in Europe finished higher.

ANALYST'S TAKE: Investors seem reassured that the Fed will continue to hold off on raising rates, giving them more confidence push the market higher.

"Typically, markets tend to be flat in front of the Fed, usually we're in a wait-and-see mode," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

She said signs of a modest economic slowdown, such as a weak factory orders report on Tuesday, may help keep the Fed patient and on hold for a longer amount of time.

"It's a slightly bad-news-is-good-news situation," she said.

There has also been an absence of sharp bad news surprises, she said, which is giving investors confidence that there is less volatility than previously feared.

CRAFTY MOVEMENT: Michaels jumped 10.1 percent as investors rewarded a better-than-expected fourth quarter and overlooked a weak forecast. The arts and crafts retailer has been reassessing its operations, moving to expand its children's offerings and shuttering its Pat Catan craft stores.

The company also changed leadership earlier this month, with CEO Chuck Rubin stepping down and longtime retail executive Mark Cosby taking over as interim CEO.

BROKEN LACE: DSW fell 13.4 percent after the footwear retailer surprised investors with a loss during the fourth quarter. The company swung to a loss of 7 cents per share, while Wall Street anticipated 4 cents per share in profit. Expenses jumped during the quarter and DSW had to deal with a hefty charge.

HIGH FLYER: Tilray slid 2.6 percent after the medical cannabis company reported a wider loss for the fourth-quarter than Wall Street analysts expected.

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