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Stocks head higher, led by technology, industrial companies


    U.S. stock indexes are inching mostly higher in early trading on Wall Street as more gains for Boeing send the Dow Jones industrial average above the record high it reached a day earlier.

NEW YORK >> U.S. stocks are rising Friday as technology companies turn higher and Boeing continues to lead industrial companies.

Stocks in the U.K. are slumping and the pound is rising after the Bank of England suggested it will start raising interest rates soon. The Federal Reserve said industrial production in the U.S. fell last month, mostly because of Hurricane Harvey.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,497 as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,251 as Boeing continued its recent rally and Apple reversed a few days of losses. The 30-company index closed at record highs the last three days. The Nasdaq composite added 22 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,451. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,427.

After a big gain Monday, stocks have been fairly quiet this week as investors turn their attention to next week’s Federal Reserve meeting. The bank is not expected to raise interest rates this month, but Wall Street is wondering if it will do so in December. The Bank of England also remained a focal point this week.

ECONOMICS: Industrial production in the U.S. fell 0.9 percent in August, the biggest drop in eight years, as Harvey knocked numerous oil refining, plastics and chemicals factories out of business for a time. Many of those factories are based in the Gulf Coast region that Harvey hit. The Federal Reserve says the weather and flooding was responsible for almost all of the loss.

Separately, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.2 percent last month as car sales decreased. That was weaker than analysts expected, and Harvey may have also been a factor in the sales decrease.

THE QUOTE: Rick Rieder, the chief investment officer for BlackRock’s global fixed income business, said retail sales and inflation have been weak because technological changes keep sending the price of clothes, food, travel, and phone plans lower.

“We get everything cheaper than we used to because of the internet and delivery mechanisms,” he said.

CLOUDY FORECAST: Oracle’s first-quarter profit and sales were better than investors expected, but the software maker sank as analysts were concerned about forecasts for its cloud computing business. Oracle lost $3.47, or 6.6 percent, to $49.32.

However, other technology companies advanced. Apple picked up $2.33, or 1.5 percent, to $160.61 after three days of declines. Chipmaker Nvidia jumped $9.56, or 5.6 percent, to $178.96 and hard drive maker Western Digital gained $3.27, or 3.8 percent, to $89.06.

POWER PLAY: Boeing rose $3.33, or 1.4 percent, to $248.58 as the aerospace company continued to set record highs. Its stock is up 60 percent in 2017. Industrial conglomerate Honeywell climbed $2.25, or 1.6 percent, to $139.46 and Emerson Electric advanced 55 cents to $62.44.

CENTRAL BANKS: U.K. stocks fell for a second day and the pound rose again after as Bank of England officials confirmed they expect to start raising interest rates for the first time in a decade in coming months. That could happen as soon as November. Stocks are falling as the pound rises because many companies on the FTSE 100 are multinationals whose earnings abroad are decreased when translated back into pounds.

The pound surged to $1.3575 from $1.3398, its highest since mid-2016. The FTSE 100 fell 1.1 percent after a 1.1-percent loss Thursday. The index is at a four-month low.

U.K. stocks did not appear to be affected by a bomb attack on a London subway train. Police said an improvised explosive device hurt 22 people mostly with burns. None of those injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

STILL HURTING: Credit monitoring companies continued to fall as Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would prevent the companies from charging fees to consumers who want their credit frozen to prevent identity thieves from using their information to open fraudulent accounts. In many states, the companies collect fees in return for freezing accounts.

Some consumers have chosen to freeze their credit after Equifax said the personal information of 143 million Americans was exposed after a breach of its systems. Equifax fell $4.06, or 4.2 percent, to $92.60. The stock is on track for its worst week since late 1998. Rival TransUnion lost $1.78, or 4.1 percent, to $41.30 and Experian fell 0.9 percent in London.

BONDS: Bond prices dipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.20 percent from 2.19 percent. Interest rates also rose, which helped banks, as they stand to make more money from lending.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 17 cents to $49.72 a barrel in New York. On Thursday U.S. crude closed at its highest price since the end of July. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 2 cents to $55.45 barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar advanced to 110.87 yen from 110.54 yen. The euro jumped to $1.1958 from $1.1914.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX lost 0.2 percent and France’s CAC 40 sagged 0.2 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi recouped initial losses to end 0.4 percent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.1 percent.

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