Wall Street rises, investors eye Fed decision, summit fears ebb

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes closed higher on Friday as investors shrugged off concerns about global trade tensions but trading volume was relatively light ahead of a busy week of central bank meetings.

The S&P 500 stayed in positive territory in the afternoon after reversing losses in the early afternoon with its biggest boosts coming from the health care and consumer staples sectors.

Investors appeared to put aside worries about U.S. relations with its biggest trading partners. G7 major nations started what was expected to be a tense meeting after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the European Union and Mexico.

Expectations for any breakthroughs at the two-day meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec, were low. “It’s highly unlikely there will be a final communique,” a G7 official said on condition of anonymity.[nL2N1TA0IJ]

But some investors appeared hesitant ahead of U.S. and European central bank meetings and a North Korea-U.S. summit set for June 12.

“There’s a lot for investors to digest but when you parse through the noise there’s still a lot of strength in the economy and that’s what investors keep gravitating to,” said Carol Schleif, Deputy Chief Investment Officer, Abbot Downing in Minneapolis.

Specifically investors were focused on expectations for strong growth among U.S. corporations, according to Katrina Lamb, head of investment strategy and research at MV Financial, in Bethesda, Maryland.

She cited expectations for sales growth of more than 7 percent this year. Wall Street estimates 2018 earnings growth of 22.2 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“The math looks really good in terms of the relation between price and earnings and sales,” said Lamb. “This is a perfectly good time to be long the market.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 75.12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,316.53, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 8.61 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,778.98 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 10.44 points, or 0.14 percent, to 7,645.51.

For the week, the S&P rose 1.62 percent while the Dow added 2.76 percent and the Nasdaq gained 1.21 percent.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The consumer staples index .SPLRCS was the biggest percentage gainer of the S&P’s 11 major sectors, with a 1.3 percent advance. Its biggest drivers were Procter & Gamble which continued its rally from the previous day, rising 1.9 percent, and Philip Morris (PM.N), which rose 2.6 percent after it announced a 6.5 percent dividend hike.

Monster Beverage (MNST.O), another staples company, rose 4.7 percent after the energy drink maker said it was “highly likely” it would raise prices later in the year.

The Healthcare index .SPXHC was the S&P’s boost with a 0.7 percent gain and its biggest driver was Allergan (AGN.N), which rose 4.3 percent.

The technology sector was barely positive with a 0.03 percent gain. Dragging on the sector was Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and its suppliers which were down following a report that the iPhone maker was planning to produce fewer phones this year. Apple was last down 1 percent.

In the quietest trading day since May 25, 6.05 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges on Friday, compared to the 6.6 billion average for the last 20 days.

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce an increase interest rates in its post-meeting statement on Wednesday and investors will be watching for signals from the U.S. central bank on its plans for the rest of the year.

U.S. investors are also keeping an eye on Europe as the European Central Bank’s chief economist has said policymakers meeting on June 14 will debate whether to end bond purchases this year.

An unprecedented meeting between Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is also scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.42-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.09-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 143 new highs and 20 new lows.

Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York, Ankur Banerjee and Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Chizu Nomiyama

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