S&P, Nasdaq hit records, Dow muted as govt shutdown looms

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose on Friday (Jan 19), led by gains in consumer stocks and hitting intraday highs, even as a possible government shutdown loomed.

The Dow was barely changed in choppy trade. Nike, Philip Morris and Home Depot rose between 1.4 per cent and 4.7 per cent on upbeat analyst expectations. Losses in IBM and American Express, however, capped the Dow's ascent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 38.89 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 26,056.7, the S&P 500 gained 11.8 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 2,809.83 and the Nasdaq Composite added 39.16 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 7,335.21.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 1.2 per cent gain in the consumer staples index and a 0.8 per cent rise in consumer discretionary stocks.

A disappointing full-year profit forecast from International Business Machines Corp pushed its shares down 3.8 per cent, on track for their biggest single-day loss since July.

American Express slipped 1.7 per cent after posting its first quarterly loss in 26 years and suspending share buybacks for the next six months.

"It's a mixed session," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, while noting the likely fleeting impact of a possible government shutdown if the Senate fails to pass a stopgap spending measure.

"Whatever immediate concern the government shutdown brings to the market, I think it will swiftly overcome," Luschini said.

The US Senate was racing to avert a shutdown ahead of a midnight deadline on the spending measure amid lingering disagreements between Democrats and Republicans.

Negotiations continued on Friday after Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer met with President Donald Trump at the White House to address the impasse.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.05-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.60-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 104 new 52-week highs and nine new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 161 new highs and 27 new lows.

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