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U.S. Stocks Inch Higher, Led by Internet Retailers

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10/04/2017 | 11:16pm CEST
By Amrith Ramkumar and Riva Gold 
   -- Internet retailers rise, led by Netflix 
   -- Dollar, bond yields lower 
   -- Spain weighs down European stocks 

Shares of internet retailers helped nudge the S&P 500 to a record and its seventh straight session of gains Wednesday.

E-commerce firms like Netflix and Amazon.com have been among the market's best performers this year, contributing to ongoing gains in U.S. stocks despite concerns about their valuations and rapid rise. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite set a trio of records again Wednesday. Each index has hit more than 40 fresh highs this year.

"Valuations are higher, but the fundamentals look really good still," said Paul Quinsee, global head of equities at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, of outperforming internet stocks. "Compared to the speed of profitability growth, we think valuations make sense," he said.

The Dow industrials inched up 19.97 points, or 0.1%, to 22661.64 to extend its winning streak to six. The S&P 500 rose 3.16 points, or 0.1%, to 2537.74 and the Nasdaq Composite swung between small gains and losses and closed up 2.91 points, or less than 0.1%, at 6534.63 to also log its seventh straight session of gains.

Netflix was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500, rising $5.26, or 2.9%, to $184.45 after UBS raised its price target on the stock. The bank raised its subscriber-growth projections for the streaming giant, noting that the previous quarter's momentum likely continued.

Other internet retailers also were among the S&P 500's best performers, including TripAdvisor and Priceline Group. Shares of Amazon.com advanced 8.35, or 0.9%, to 965.45.

PepsiCo shares swung after the food and beverage giant reported weaker-than-expected sales in the most recent quarter. Shares closed up 21 cents, or 0.2%, at 109.34, paring losses after falling as much as 2.7% earlier in the session.

Shares of Mylan climbed 5.27, or 16%, to 37.80 -- their best day in almost nine years -- after the company said it received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to offer generic versions of Copaxone, Teva Pharmaceutical's multiple sclerosis treatment.

U.S. economic data was mixed Wednesday. First, a report showed hiring at private U.S. employers grew less than expected last month, with hurricanes denting economic growth. Then, the Institute for Supply Management said its index measuring service-sector activity rose to its highest level since 2005. Investors will be closely monitoring Friday's monthly jobs report for another reading on the economy.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was unchanged at 2.332%. Yields rise as prices fall. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, inched down 0.1%.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1% after rising for nine straight sessions -- the longest run since July 2015.

Spain's IBEX 35 index led global declines -- falling 2.9% to extend this week's losses -- as investors continued to weigh the implications of escalating tensions around Catalonia. The king of Spain accused Catalan leaders of pushing the country toward a constitutional crisis Tuesday, with the region's officials pledging to declare independence within days.

Shares of Catalonia's largest banks and Spanish bonds fell, with some worried about possible negative credit implications for Spain.

"Catalonia is such an integral part of the overall economy," said Patrick O'Donnell, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments. Still, he doesn't see an immediate spillover to other assets across Europe because the situation doesn't pose an existential threat to the eurozone.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.7% to its highest close since April 2015, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.1% to post its highest close since August 2015.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DJ INDUSTRIAL 0.44% 25782.94 Delayed Quote.3.84%
HANG SENG 1.41% 27592.85 Real-time Quote.-9.11%
IBEX 35 0.54% 9468.6 End-of-day quote.-6.24%
NASDAQ 100 -0.17% 7367.143 Delayed Quote.15.34%
NASDAQ COMP. -0.06% 7817.4839 Delayed Quote.13.22%
NIKKEI 225 -0.32% 22199 Real-time Quote.-2.52%
S&P 500 0.33% 2850.13 Real-time Quote.6.60%
US DOLLAR INDEX -0.57% 96.1 End-of-day quote.4.62%
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