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Stocks Mostly Up After Fed Rate Hike   12/13 16:08

   The major U.S. stock indexes finished mostly higher Wednesday, with small 
companies notching big gains as lawmakers in the House and Senate reached a 
deal on a sweeping tax reform package.

   (AP) -- The major U.S. stock indexes finished mostly higher Wednesday, with 
small companies notching big gains as lawmakers in the House and Senate reached 
a deal on a sweeping tax reform package.

   The Dow Jones industrial average eked out its third record-high close in as 
many days, driven by a jump in Caterpillar. But a last-minute pullback in bank 
stocks left the Standard & Poor's 500 index slightly lower.

   Packaged food and beverage stocks, health care companies and industrials 
shares accounted for much of the market's modest gains. Banks struggled as 
long-term bond yields edged lower, which makes it tougher for banks to earn 
money from lending.

   The decline in financial stocks came even as the Federal Reserve raised its 
benchmark rate for the third time this year. The move, which was widely 
expected, came as the central bank noted that the U.S. economy was on sound 
footing.

   "Widely expected. No big surprises. No big changes," said Tim Dreiling, 
regional investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "It's encouraging 
that they continue to see economic growth continuing into 2018, which aligns 
with our thinking."

   The S&P 500 index slipped 1.26 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,662.85. The 
index closed at all-time highs on Monday and Tuesday.

   The Dow gained 80.63 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,585.43. The Nasdaq added 
13.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,875.80. The Russell 2000 index of 
smaller-company stocks picked up 8.33 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,524.45.

   Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.34 percent 
from 2.40 percent late Tuesday.

   Trading got off to a subdued start Wednesday as investors waited for the 
afternoon policy update from the Fed.

   As expected, the central bank raised the federal funds rate --- what banks 
charge each other for short-term loans --- by 0.25 percentage points to a 
still-low range of 1.25 to 1.5 percent. The latest short-term rate increase is 
the third one implemented by the Fed this year and signals the central bank's 
confidence that the U.S. economy remains on solid footing 8 years after the end 
of the Great Recession.

   The Fed also said it expects the job market and the economy to strengthen 
further next year, which is one reason it forecast that it would raise rates 
three times next year.

   Developments out of Washington put investors in the mood to buy small 
company shares about two hours before the Fed's announcement.

   Republican leadership in the House and Senate forged an agreement Wednesday 
on the GOP's planned overhaul of the nation's tax laws. The move paves the way 
for final votes next week to slash taxes for businesses and give many Americans 
modest tax cuts starting next year. Smaller companies stand to benefit most 
from a reduction in corporate tax rates because they tend to pay higher taxes 
than bigger corporations.

   "If you look at the mix today, small caps are doing better than large caps," 
said Sameer Samana, global technical and equity strategist for Wells Fargo 
Investment Institute. "Clearly, they would be the better beneficiaries because 
they tend to pay higher tax rates."

   Packaged food and beverage companies posted solid gains. Coca-Cola rose 61 
cents, or 1.3 percent, to $45.90.

   Health care stocks also rose. Incyte climbed $2.70, or 2.8 percent, to 
$98.10. 

   Caterpillar led the gainers among industrials stocks, adding $5.15, or 3.6 
percent, to $148.57. The construction and mining equipment company was also the 
biggest gainer in the Dow.

   Traders also bid up shares in Western Digital after the hard drive maker 
resolved a dispute with its partner Toshiba over Toshiba's plan to sell its 
flash memory business. Western Digital rose $1.86, or 2.3 percent, to $83.63.

   Investors also welcomed some corporate deal news. 

   Finisar jumped 22.8 percent after Apple said it will invest $390 million in 
the fiber optic component supplier so it can make more lasers used in facial 
recognition technology. Finisar increased $4.40 to $23.70.

   Target rose 2.7 percent after the retailer said it plans to boost its 
same-day delivery capability by paying $550 million for Shipt. The delivery 
service company charges members $99 a year and sends people out to choose and 
deliver groceries from stores. Target added $1.65 to $62.67.

   Shares in Diebold fell 2.7 percent after the ATM and security systems maker 
said CEO Andreas Mattes resigned. The stock gave up 50 cents to $18.

   Banks and other financial stocks declined the most among the 11 company 
sectors in the S&P 500. Charles Schwab slid $1.23, or 2.4 percent, to $50.33.

   Oil prices veered lower, giving up early gains. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 54 
cents to settle at $56.60 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent 
crude, used to price international oils, slid 90 cents, or 1.4 percent, to 
close at $62.44 per barrel in London.

   The decline in oil prices weighed on several energy stocks. National Oilwell 
Varco lost 55 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $32.59.

   The dollar fell to 112.52 Japanese yen from 113.58 yen late Tuesday. The 
euro strengthened to $1.1820 from $1.1737.

   Bitcoin futures fell on their third day of trading, dropping $965, or 5.4 
percent, to $17,055 on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The futures allow investors 
to make bets on the future price of bitcoin. The average price of an actual 
bitcoin was $16,654 in trading on private exchanges, according to Coindesk. The 
price of the digital currency has soared this year, having begun 2017 under 
$1,000.

   In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline fell 5 cents, or 3 
percent, to $1.65 a gallon. Heating oil shed 3 cents to $1.90 a gallon. Natural 
gas rose 4 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $2.72 per 1,000 cubic feet.

   Gold rose $6.90 to $1,248.60 an ounce. Silver gained 20 cents to $15.87 an 
ounce. Copper added 3 cents to $3.05 a pound.

   Major stock indexes in Europe also closed lower Wednesday. Germany's DAX 
fell 0.4 percent, while France's CAC-40 slid 0.5 percent. London's FTSE 100 
shed 0.1 percent.

   Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.5 percent, while Tokyo's 
Nikkei 225 shed 0.5 percent. Seoul's Kospi added 0.8 percent. Sydney's S&P-ASX 
200 picked up 0.1 percent and India's Sensex added 0.4 percent.


(BE)

 
 
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