Tech recovery nudges Wall Street higher


(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes edged higher on Wednesday, with Microsoft and other technology stocks making modest gains and helping offset losses in energy shares after oil prices dropped more than 2 percent.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Shares of Microsoft (MSFT.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O) rose more than 1 percent as the technology sector recovered from a recent selloff.

Investors are evaluating the details of the new tax code as U.S. Senate Republicans attempt to reconcile their version of the bill with that of the House of Representatives.

“It’s hard to speculate on what the final bill is going to say. I think the market moves a little bit on that, but mostly moves on fundamentals and sentiment, which are strong,” said Sean O‘Hara, director at Pacer Financial Inc.

The bill passed on Saturday by Republican senators included a last-minute change to retain the corporate alternative minimum tax, or AMT, which had initially been removed.

Including the AMT could negate parts of the bill seen as beneficial to tech companies and other corporations.

Oil prices hit two-year lows after a surprise rise in U.S. inventories of refined products suggested demand may be flagging.

Schlumberger (SLB.N), Exxon (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) fell between 0.4 percent and 2.3 percent, helping push the S&P 500 energy index .SPNY down 1.2 percent.

“Energy has had a mini-surge over the past month or so, and so I think this inventory build is being viewed as an opportunity to take some profits,” said Mike Baele, managing director at U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon.

At 2:37 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 0.09 percent at 24,203.25 points, while the S&P 500 .SPX had gained 0.16 percent to 2,633.91.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.31 percent to 6,782.90.

Home Depot (HD.N) slipped 0.9 percent after the home improvement retailer announced a $15 billion share repurchase plan. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow.

H&R Block (HRB.N) surged 9.2 percent after the tax preparation service provider reported better-than-expected revenue.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.47-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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