Markets Right Now: Tech, health lead stocks gains at midday

Markets Right Now: Tech, health lead stocks gains at midday

U.S. stocks eked out gains on Tuesday as benign February inflation data supported the Federal Reserve's dovish stance on future rate hikes, but Boeing's fall for a second straight session pressured the Dow and capped gains in broader markets. The S&P 500 rose 8.22 points, or 0.3%, to finish at 2,791.52 as health care and utilities stocks led gains, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 32.97 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 7,591.03. The stock vaulted 25.2 percent. Conversely, the industrials and consumer staples sectors underperformed.

- China on March 11, 2019, ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, citing the Ethiopian Airlines crash and another deadly accident of that same model in Indonesia.

Boeing briefly dipped, but finished slightly higher, after the US said it was joining other countries in grounding the company's 737 Max 8 airplane following a fatal crash of an Ethiopian airliner over the weekend.

The Labor Department's latest snapshot of consumer prices also put investors in a buying mood. The, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, declined 0.10% to 97.172. Additionally, sales in January increased 2.3 percent from a year ago. A core reading of inflation, stripping out volatile food and energy prices, edged 0.1% higher, representing the smallest rise since August.

USA consumer prices rose for the first time in four months in February. S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 7.5 points, or 0.1 percent. In electronic trading after the settlement, gold futures touched highs above $1,302, edging slightly higher after the Brexit vote. Boeing's losses trimmed more than 150 points from the Dow.

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About 7.1 billion shares changed hands on USA exchanges. Boeing has more than 5,000 orders outstanding for the 737 Max 8 aircraft, which is expected to be a large driver of business in the years ahead.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.61 per cent. Brent crude, used to price global oils, added 70 cents to $67.28 per barrel in London.

"With headline CPI inflation edging down to a two-and-a-half-year low of 1.5% in February, from 1.6%, and core inflation dropping to a four-month low of 2.1%, from 2.2%, the Fed would appear to be justified in supporting the real economy by being patient and leaving interest rates on hold for a potentially extended period", Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a note Tuesday.

Last week the index had its first weekly loss since January.

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