Wall St. end mixed as S&P marks longest bull run

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq gaining on the strength of tech stocks while the S&P 500 was little changed as it marked its longest bull-market run.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The legal woes of two former advisers to U.S. President Donald Trump contributed to investors’ caution, while the release of the Federal Open Market Committee’s minutes from its last policy meeting had only a fleeting impact on Wall Street’s major indexes.

U.S. central bankers discussed raising interest rates soon to counter excessive economic strength but also examined how global trade disputes could batter businesses and households.

Energy stocks .SPNY rose 1.2 percent as oil prices jumped, while retailers gained after Target Corp TGT.N and Lowe's Companies Inc LOW.N announced quarterly results. The biggest boost to the S&P 500 came from technology stocks .SPLRCT, which advanced 0.5 percent.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud charges on Tuesday evening, while Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a range of charges and said he acted at the direction of Trump.

Investors are considering whether the twin setback will hurt the Republican Party’s election prospects and widen a criminal probe that has overshadowed Trump’s presidency.

“There was quite a lot of news that was negative for Trump yesterday that introduced uncertainty into the market,” said Robert Phipps, director at Per Stirling Capital Management in Austin, Texas.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 88.69 points, or 0.34 percent, to 25,733.6, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 1.14 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,861.82 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 29.92 points, or 0.38 percent, to 7,889.10.

“We’re at a point of technical resistance,” Phipps said. “We need a catalyst to break through it, but there’s not currently one on the docket.”

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 reached an all-time intraday high but ended the session below that level.

The S&P’s bull-market run has now stretched for 3,453 days, the longest streak by commonly used definitions, and comes a day after it hit a record intraday high.

Target shares touched an all-time high after the retailer beat quarterly estimates and raised its full-year profit forecast. Target shares ended the session up 3.2 percent.

Lowe’s shares also hit a record high after the home improvement chain promised to cut back slow-moving products and unsuccessful business projects. They closed up 5.8 percent.

Shares of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc HIG.N dropped 4.2 percent after the insurer said it will buy Navigators Group Inc NAVG.O in a $2.1 billion cash deal. Navigators' shares jumped 8.8 percent to $69.90, just below Hartford's offer of $70 a share.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.17-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.49-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 109 new highs and 22 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 5.26 billion shares, compared to the 6.42 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

Reporting by April Joyner; additional reporting by Sinéad Carew in New York and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and James Dalgleish