Wall Street unmoved by economic data, North Korea missile test; Dow at record high

The major indexes are hovering at record high levels, with investors now awaiting the Federal Reserve's meeting on Sept. 19-20 to gauge the future path of monetary policy.
The major indexes are hovering at record high levels, with investors now awaiting the Federal Reserve's meeting on Sept. 19-20 to gauge the future path of monetary policy.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks were little changed on Friday (Sept 15), but the Dow eked out another record high, as investors shrugged off North Korea's latest missile test and domestic economic data that did little to move the needle on the timing of an interest rate hike.

The major indexes are hovering at record high levels, with investors now awaiting the Federal Reserve's meeting on Sept 19-20 to gauge the future path of monetary policy. No monetary policy change is expected at the meet, but the odds of a December rate hike jumped on Thursday after a strong report on consumer prices, a closer read on inflation, which the central bank is closely monitoring.

US retail sales unexpectedly fell last month, the Commerce Department said, while another report showed industrial output in August notched its first decline since January. Both readings included the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Earlier in the day, Pyongyang fired a second missile in as many weeks over Japan, which drew widespread criticism from global leaders, but barely moved shares and other risk assets.

"I think the market is kind of getting desensitised to that," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St Petersburg, Florida. "But it can always use that as an excuse in an overbought situation, to take some pressure off."

At 9.39am ET (9.39pm Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 28.81 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 22,232.29, the S&P 500 was down 0.45 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 2,495.17.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 5.31 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 6,423.77. The three major indexes were on track to log gains for the week, with the Dow poised for its best week in more than eight months.

Despite geopolitical concerns and uncertainty regarding interest rates, the Dow has gained more than 12 per cent this year, driven by strong corporate earnings reports and optimism that President Donald Trump will cut business taxes.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher on the day, led by the telecom services sector's 0.45 per cent rise. Oracle fell 5.83 per cent after the company's disappointing profit forecast and indications of a slowing cloud business. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P.

On the Nasdaq, 1,305 issues fell and 1,022 advanced.