March 28, 2018 / 7:00 PM / 23 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St edges up as gains in defensive shares counter Amazon losses

(Updates to late afternoon, changes byline)

* Indexes waffle in choppy trading session

* Amazon.com, Tesla weigh on consumer discretionary stocks

* Q4 GDP revised up, biggest consumer spending gain in 3 years

* Dow up 0.29 pct, S&P up 0.11 pct, Nasdaq off 0.34 pct

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - Wall Street edged higher during a rocky session on Wednesday as gains for defensive stocks offset a sharp fall in Amazon shares and declines in technology stocks.

The benchmark S&P 500 moved in and out of positive territory following Tuesday’s late-session, tech-driven sell-off on the heels of Monday’s rally as traders adjusted to a return of volatility in recent weeks.

“We’re seeing a bit of a rotation away from technology and into some of the healthcare stocks and consumer staples-type names that you haven’t seen in a while,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I think we’re in for more choppiness for the next month until the earnings situation clarifies itself and some of the headline items, either good or bad, come to pass or get dropped along the way.”

At 2:43PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69.35 points, or 0.29 percent, to 23,927.06, the S&P 500 gained 2.81 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,615.43 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.96 points, or 0.34 percent, to 6,984.85.

Online retailer Amazon.com lost as much as $53 billion in market value after a report that President Donald Trump indicated he wanted to rein in the company. The stock later pared its loses and was down 4.2 percent in afternoon trading.

Shares of automaker Tesla slumped 8.1 percent, extending recent losses, following a credit downgrade and news that officials are investigating a fatal crash and fire in California.

Countering those losses were gains for defensive sectors such as consumer staples, real estate, and telecom .

The U.S. economy slowed less than previously expected in the final months of 2017 as consumer spending saw its biggest quarterly gain in three years. GDP expanded at an 2.9 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2017, ahead of the previously reported 2.5 percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Robust economic data could open the door to more aggressive interest rate increases by the U.S. Federal Reserve this year.

“I think there is general consensus that the economy is doing good and that number proves it, but it’s always difficult to know what’s already in the stock market versus what people are anticipating,” said Tuz. “I get the sense that people are nervous right now.”

Stocks had shot up earlier in the week as comments from officials in United States and China implied the world’s two largest economies would renegotiate tariffs and trade imbalances, averting a dreaded trade war.

China is due to announce a list of tariffs on U.S. exports to China in a tit-for-tat retaliation against the expected tariff proposals from the U.S. on Chinese imports.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.32-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.03-to-1 ratio favored decliners. (Reporting by Stephen Culp Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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