Wall Street touched record intraday highs on Tuesday, helped by a surge in Wal-Mart Stores, while Amazon and technology stocks lost ground an investors focused on upcoming quarterly reports. Wal-Mart jumped more than 4 percent to a two-year high after forecasting U.S. online sales would rise by about 40 percent in the next fiscal year and unveiling a $20-billion share buyback plan. That helped the S&P 500 consumer staples index jump 0.77 percent, although gains in that sector were limited by P&G, which dropped 1.06 percent after activist investor Nelson Peltz unexpectedly failed in his bid to win a board seat.
Third-quarter corporate reporting season kicks into high gear on Thursday with results from JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. With the S&P 500 up 14 percent in 2017, investors are betting on strong earnings growth across the S&P 500. Wall Street has mostly shrugged off recent saber-rattling between the United States and North Korea, as well as a lack of progress by President Donald Trump in delivering promised corporate tax cuts. “The only fear in this market is the fear of missing out,” said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas. “But things can change quickly. There’s stuff out there, like North Korea. You still have to be cautious.”
All three major indexes were off of earlier intra-day record highs. At 2:32 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2 percent at 22,806.57 points, while the S&P 500 had gained 0.15 percent to 2,548.46. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.03 percent to 6,577.63. The tech index, the best performing among the 11 major S&P sectors this year, fell 0.14 percent, weighed down by Alphabet, Facebook and Intel. Among the gainers in tech stocks was Nvidia, which rose 1.87 percent after unveiling chips for autonomous vehicles.
American Airlines jumped 4.94 percent and United Continental soared 5.34 percent after the two airlines gave encouraging third-quarter forecasts. Delta, which reports on Wednesday, rose 2.45 percent.
Energy stocks got a boost from a near 2-percent rise in oil prices supported by Saudi Arabian export cuts in November and comments from OPEC and trading companies that the market is rebalancing after years of oversupply. Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.70-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.31-to-1 ratio favored advancers.