By Victor Reklaitis and Anora M. Gaudiano, MarketWatch
Tesla gains after Nomura's upbeat take, while Mylan gets a big lift from an FDA OK
U.S. stocks advanced modestly on Wednesday, building on the recent streak of gains that's taken all major benchmarks to all-time highs.
What stock benchmarks are doing
The S&P 500 was up by 4 points, or 0.3%, to 2,538, with ten of its 11 main sectors trading higher. Consumer discretionary, consumer staples and health-care shares were leading the gains, while technology stocks were under pressure. The benchmark index is on track for a seventh straight session of gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 35 points, or 0.2%, to 22,677, on track to post a sixth consecutive gain. Caterpillar Inc. (>> Caterpillar) and Nike Inc. (>> Nike) were leading gains, up about 1%.
The Nasdaq Composite Index , meanwhile, advanced 6 points, or 0.1%, to 6,536, as gains were limited by a slide in shares of iPhone maker Apple Inc. (>> Apple).
What could drive markets?
Private-sector employment slowed in September as firms added 135,000 jobs. The report comes ahead of the government's monthly release on nonfarm payrolls that is scheduled for Friday.
Markit's September figure for its services purchasing managers index dipped to 55.3 in September from 56 in August.
The comparable ISM report for the same month rose to 59.8, compared with 55.3 in the prior period and marking its highest level since mid-2005. A reading of 50 or greater indicates expansion.
Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar
On the Federal Reserve front, Fed chief Janet Yellen is due to give brief opening remarks at a conference on community banking at the St. Louis Fed at 3:15 p.m. Eastern Time, and her second-in-command Stanley Fischer took part in a TV interview ahead of the open, saying the pace of interest-rate hikes was "OK."
What are strategists saying?
--"Markets are back in positive territory on speculation that Jerome Powell may have a lead to get the chairmanship of the Fed. He is more or less aligned with the current chair Yellen and markets would like to keep that status quo," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist, at Prudential Financial.
--"The S&P 500 posted its sixth consecutive day of gains [on Tuesday], continuing to benefit from positive short-term momentum. The breakout from September's consolidation phase refreshed the uptrend, and should help stave off a pullback until later this month," said Katie Stockton, chief technical strategist at BTIG.
Which stocks are in focus?
Shares in electric-car maker Tesla Inc.(>> Tesla) rose 1.3% to around $352 after Nomura analysts initiated coverage with a buy rating and price target of $500 .
Shares in Mylan NV(>> Mylan NV) surged 17% after the maker of generic drugs late Tuesday announced (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mylan-announces-us-fda-approval-of-first-generic-for-copaxone-40-mgml-3-times-a-week-and-may-be-eligible-for-180-day-exclusivity-300530551.html) that the Food and Drug Administration had approved its generic versions for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s Copaxone, a drug for people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Teva's stock (>> Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR)) fell 12%.
Shares in PepsiCo Inc.(>> PepsiCo) dropped 2% after the drinks heavyweight posted better-than-expected profit but weaker-than-anticipated revenue . Seeds and pesticides giant Monsanto Co.(>> Monsanto) shares rose after the agriculture products company reported a surprise fiscal fourth-quarter profit and sales growth.
Amazon.com Inc.'s stock (>> Amazon.com) was little changed after a European Union regulator ordered the e-commerce giant to pay about $300 million in back taxes to Luxembourg. The order had been expected to come this week.
Office Depot Inc.(>> Office Depot Inc) plunged 18% after the retailer late Tuesday said it's lowering its 2017 profit guidance and plans to pay $1 billion for IT company CompuCom Systems Inc.
Shares in Verizon Communications Inc.(>> Verizon Communications) were little changed after the telecom announced late Tuesday that every Yahoo account was affected by a 2013 hack . Verizon completed its acquisition of ailing internet pioneer Yahoo in June.
What other assets are doing
European stocks traded lower, with Spain's IBEX benchmark among the biggest losers after Catalonia's leaders reiterated their pledge to declare independence while King Felipe VI said they have "undermined harmony."
Asian markets largely closed with gains , as Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index flirted with a 10-year high but then pared gains.
Oil futures and the ICE U.S. Dollar Index pulled back, while gold futures advanced.
Stocks mentioned in the article : Caterpillar
, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR)
, Verizon Communications
, Office Depot Inc
, Mylan NV