S&P 500 flirts with record high as month, quarter draw to a close

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NEW YORK — Wall Street was muted on Wednesday and the S&P teased its fifth straight record closing high as investors ended the month and the quarter by largely shrugging off positive economic data and looking toward Friday’s highly anticipated employment report.

The indexes were languid and range-bound, with the blue-chip Dow posting modest gains, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq stayed relatively close to the starting gate.

“The news is sanguine and therefore we’re not seeing big swings,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. “But the trend is higher as stock prices are reflecting the economic recovery.”

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For the month, the bellwether S&P 500 was set to notch its fifth consecutive advance, while the Dow was on track to snap its four-month winning streak. The Nasdaq was on course for a green June.

This month, investor appetite shifted away from economically sensitive cyclicals in favor of growth stocks.

“We’ve seen a significant preference for cyclicals through May, and in June we’ve seen a major preference shift to growth, or ‘tech-plus stocks,’” Ghriskey added. “It’s been a dramatic change.”

All three indexes were on pace for their fifth consecutive quarterly gains, and the S&P 500 is on track to register its second-best first-half performance since 1998, rising 14.3%.

“The overall stock market continues to be on a tear, with very consistent gains for quite some time,” Ghriskey said. “Valuations, while certainly high by historical standards, have been at a fairly consistent level, benefiting from the economic recovery.”

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The private sector added 692,000 jobs in June, breezing past expectations, according to payroll processor ADP. The number is 92,000 higher than the private payroll adds economists predict from the Labor Department’s more comprehensive employment report due on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 167.5 points, or 0.49%, to 34,459.79, the S&P 500 gained 2.05 points, or 0.05%, to 4,293.85 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 20.02 points, or 0.14%, to 14,508.31.

Among the 11 major sectors of the S&P, energy was the biggest percentage gainer, while real estate suffered the biggest loss.

Boeing Co gained 2.2% after Germany’s defense ministry announced it would buy five of the planemaker’s P-8A maritime control aircraft, coming on the heels of United Airlines unveiling its largest-ever order for new planes.

Micron Technology advanced 1.6% as BMO upgraded the chipmaker’s stock to “outperform” from “market perform” on continued supply-demand imbalance in 2022. The company is expected to report results after the bell.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.25-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 55 new highs and 30 new lows.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp in New York Additional reporting by by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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