Wall Street inched higher in a volatile session yesterday, torn between strong corporate earnings and a surge in the US dollar.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 38.60 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 11,146.57. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 2.09 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 1,180.26. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 2.28 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 2,459.67.
The market swung in a wide range throughout the day as investors reacted to gyrations in the currency markets and as relatively strong earnings took a back seat.
But by the end of the session, the fundamental picture seemed to win out. The Dow rose, helped by McDonald’s and Travelers, both of which hit 52-week highs after stronger-than-expected results.
“Companies are continuing to show that they are continuing to make money in a low nominal GDP environment and that they are very good at it and they can continue to do so,” said Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation at ING.
Investors have been trading the dollar and equities against each other recently as expectations the Federal Reserve will pump billions into the economy have pressured the greenback while lifting stocks.
Commodity-linked stocks have been among the most sensitive to the trade. Occidental Petroleum fell 2.7 per cent to $78.80 while the S&P energy index edged lower as oil dropped more than two per cent to under $81 per barrel.
“The trade has been: Weak dollar is good for commodities and is good for any risk-related assets like equities. On dollar weakness, buy those things; on dollar strength, get out of those things,” said Bill Strazzullo, partner and chief investment strategist at Bell Curve Trading in Boston.
The euro and the popularly traded S&P E-mini futures contract have tracked each other closely in the last month.
The euro had earlier climbed to a high around $1.405 but later was trading down 0.3 per cent to $1.392.
Banking stocks were weak as investors continued to wrestle with the chance Bank of America might have to buy back mortgages bonds. The stock fell 3.3 per cent to $11.36.