Wall St. forfeits early gains as bond yields rise

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(Reuters) – Wall Street gave up earlier gains on Thursday as bond yields rose and technology stocks retreated ahead of a host of high-profile earnings.

It has been a rocky week for Wall Street. Mostly robust earnings have been met by rising bond yields as world central banks back away from easy monetary policy. The SP 500 is on track for its first weekly decline in five.

The Federal Reserve held the fed funds target rate steady on Wednesday but indicated a more hawkish inflation outlook.

U.S. Treasury yields continued to climb after economic indicators seemed to confirm the Fed’s inflation views.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits came in below expectations, indicating a tight labor market. ISM data showed prices paid by U.S. factories hitting a near 7-year high, and fourth-quarter labor costs increased by 2 percent, adding to inflation concerns.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 37.32 points, or 0.14 percent, to 26,186.71, the SP 500 .SPX lost 1.83 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,821.98 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 25.62 points, or 0.35 percent, to 7,385.86.

Banks, which benefit from higher interest rates, led the SP 500 financials .SPSY to a 1-percent gain, with Goldman Sachs helping to push the Dow into positive territory.

Of the 11 major sectors of the SP 500, four posted gains.

Other notable stock movers included eBay (EBAY.O), up 13.8 percent after its earnings report, and its announcement that it would move away from PayPal (PYPL.O) as its main payments partner. PayPal shares slid 8.1 percent.

UPS (UPS.N) was down 6.1 percent after it reported fourth-quarter profit that was hurt by higher holiday season shipping costs. The company was the second-biggest percentage loser on the SP 500.

Analysts see fourth-quarter SP 500 earnings growth of 14.9 percent, up from 12 percent expected on January 1. So far, of 227 companies that have reported, 79.7 percent have come in above Street estimates.

“Earnings are going very well, it demonstrates that the dramatic cut in corporate taxes are helping every one in terms of profitability,” said Stephen Massocca, Managing Director at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

High-profile tech companies reported after the closing bell.

Amazon.com (AMZN.O) was up over 2 percent in after hours trading after results.

Alphabet (GOOGL.O) was down over 4 percent in extended trade after its quarterly earnings.

Apple (AAPL.O) closed up 0.2 percent ahead of its earnings announcement.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.24-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.01-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The SP 500 posted 29 new 52-week highs and 9 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 82 new highs and 66 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.80 billion shares, above the 7.23 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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