Wall Street ekes out gains ahead of Singapore summit

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 83.18 points, or 0.34 percent, to 24,664.89, the S&P 500 lost 15.51 points, or 0.57 percent, to 2,693.13 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 57.18 points, or 0.78 percent, to 7,238.06. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.02 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.25 percent. (Picture shows: Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 19, 2018. - Reuters

NEW YORK: All three major U.S. stock indexes closed slightly higher on Monday as investors eyed the looming United States-North Korea summit on Tuesday in Singapore while shrugging off the weekend's factious meeting of the Group of Seven nations.

President Donald Trump announced the United States' withdrawal from the G7's joint communique following a series of bellicose tweets aimed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the Canadian leader announced retaliatory tariffs on goods imported from its ally to the south.

The markets seemed to take the trade row in stride and looked instead to the impending summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, an historic effort to bridge differences and avoid nuclear confrontation on the Korean peninsula.

"With the G7 everyone knew there were issues going into it and probably nothing would get done," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. "The focus is on the possibility of something good coming out of the Singapore summit."

"There's been a net improvement in the minds of investors in terms of international security, (and) there seems to be a willingness to talk on the part of North Korea."

Investors are also anticipating this week's meetings of three of the world's top central banks: the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan.

The Fed is widely expected to raise key interest rates on Wednesday, and on Thursday the ECB is seen moving toward a roll back of its crisis-era stimulus scheme.

"With the (Fed's) rate increase we're going to get on Wednesday, we're going to be close to the core inflation rate," Hellwig said. "On the other hand, economic numbers look great."

Yields of U.S. government bonds rose as the Treasury Department saw solid demand at auctions for $54 billion in new three and 10-year notes ahead of the Fed meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5.78 points, or 0.02 percent, to 25,322.31, the S&P 500 gained 2.97 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,782 and the Nasdaq Composite added 14.41 points, or 0.19 percent, to 7,659.93.

Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, four closed in negative territory, including real estate <.SPLRCR>, utilities <.SPLRCU>, technology <.SPLRCT> and financials <.SPSY>.

Sempra Energy was the biggest percentage gainer of the S&P 500, ending the day up 15.5 percent on the news that activist investors urged a strategic review and recommended new directors for the company's board.

Boston Scientific Corp helped boost the healthcare sector as its shares advanced 7.4 percent following a Wall Street Journal report that rival Stryker Corp had made overtures to acquire the medical device maker.

AT&T Inc closed 1.0 percent higher, a day ahead of a court decision regarding its proposed merger with Time Warner Inc .

Facebook Inc gained 1.3 percent after Keybanc analysts said Instagram could be the company's primary growth driver.

UnitedHealth Group Inc climbed 1.2 percent, providing the biggest boost to the Dow.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.23-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.19-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 47 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 170 new highs and 26 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.05 billion shares, compared to the 6.62 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days. - Reuters
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