Tech and health care stocks take indexes back to records

Stock indexes drifted back to record highs Wednesday as investors got ready for another round of corporate reports. Technology, health care, and household goods companies all rose.

Tech companies like PayPal, Visa, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, made some of the biggest gains as the market was little changed for the third day in a row. Banks slipped, along with interest rates, and industrial companies took small losses.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s September meeting showed officials were split about whether to raise interest rates again soon. But they appeared to be getting used to the idea that inflation is going to stay lower than they had hoped. For years, it’s come up short of their 2 percent target.


Kristina Hooper, global markets strategist for Invesco, said one reason for the low inflation is continued fallout from the most recent financial crisis. In her view, many of the jobs that were lost after the 2008-09 meltdown were replaced by lower-paying ones.

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‘‘There are still a good portion of Americans who are making less today than they made before the global financial crisis,’’ she said. ‘‘That’s playing a role in lower wage growth and low inflation.’’

On Wednesday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.2 percent, to 2,555.24. The Dow Jones industrial average also added 0.2 percent, to 22,872.89. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2 percent, to 6,603.55. All three indexes finished at record highs. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged down 0.1 percent, to 1,506.92.

Hooper said inflation might increase if President Trump and Congress pass a tax cut that encourages businesses to invest more money. She said businesses and consumers feel optimistic about the economy, but they’re reluctant to spend because they’re not sure what economic policy will look like.

Airlines rose for a second day in a row. Delta Air Lines’ profit and revenue were better than analysts anticipated; the stock rose 0.7 percent. It has surged 9 percent since Oct. 3. JetBlue gained 1.5 percent after it gave an update on the revenue it lost following hurricanes Irma and Maria.


Johnson & Johnson led health care companies higher after it asked regulators to approve its drug apalutamide for patients with a hard-to-treat form of prostate cancer. The stock rose 2.1 percent.

An upset loss by the US men’s soccer team dented shares of Twenty-First Century Fox. The team will miss the 2018 World Cup following its loss to Trinidad and Tobago. That could cut into advertising revenue for Fox, which will broadcast the event. The stock fell 2.5 percent.

Luxury accessories maker Coach said it will change its name to Tapestry. It bought the Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands over the last few years and said it wants its name to reflect its growth beyond the iconic Coach brand. The stock lost 2.8 percent.

Sears sagged after its former Canadian unit asked a court to allow it to liquidate its 130 remaining stores. Sears Canada said it couldn’t find a buyer to allow it to stay in business. Sears Canada was split off from Sears Holdings in 2014, but the US business has also been struggling. The stock lost 6.9 percent.