February 28, 2017 / 12:41 PM / 5 months ago

S&P 500 futures ahead; Trump promises tax relief, infrastructure boost

(Reuters) - U.S. stock futures were ahead late on Tuesday, indicating a higher open on Wednesday, after President Donald Trump's first address to Congress, which gave few specifics but confirmed his commitment to lowering tax and boosting infrastructure.

S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 0.3 percent ahead of the speech and held most of those gains, last up 0.26 percent.

In his speech, Trump said he wanted to boost the U.S. economy with tax relief, an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act and a $1 trillion infrastructure effort, though he also said he was open to a broad overhaul of the U.S. immigration system.

Strategists said the comments offered little in the way of new details for investors, but said some may be relieved that it did not bring any negative surprises and at least underscored his pro-growth stance.

"From an investor's perspective there was no new information, no surprises good or bad," said Steve Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. "But he burnished his image, so there's a positive there. He's a pro-business president, so that's a good thing."

The gains marked a reversal from the day's regular session, where stocks ended down and the Dow snapped a 12-day streak of record closes.

Stocks have risen sharply in the wake of the Nov. 8 election, bolstered by Trump's promises of tax reform, infrastructure spending and reduced regulations. The S&P is up about 10.5 percent since the Nov. 8 election.

Earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 25.2 points, or 0.12 percent, to end at 20,812.24, while the S&P 500 lost 6.11 points, or 0.26 percent, to end at 2,363.64 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 36.46 points, or 0.62 percent, to 5,825.44.

A disappointing outlook from Target dragged down retailers during the session.

Traders work on the trading floor at the opening of the markets at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. February 27, 2017.Andrew Kelly

Target slumped 12.2 percent in its biggest one-day percentage drop since 2008 after the retailer's full-year profit forecast missed estimates and the company said it would take a $1 billion hit to its operating profit.

The S&P retail index was down 0.8 percent and the discretionary index was down 0.7 percent, the biggest drag on the S&P 500.

Also weighing on sentiment was data that showed U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter.

All three major indexes posted gains for the month of February, however, with the S&P 500 up 3.7 percent, the Dow up 4.8 percent and the Nasdaq up 3.8 percent.

Among other stocks, Charles Schwab fell 3.2 percent after the company said it would cut its ETF trade and online equity fees, following similar cuts by Fidelity Investments. TD Ameritrade dropped 10.4 percent.

Priceline rose 5.6 percent following quarterly revenue that blew past estimates.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.79-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.47-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 51 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 106 new highs and 52 new lows.

About 7.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.9 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data

Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jacqueline Wong

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