Markets Right Now: Banks, retailers lead stock gains

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Investors have always been preparing for a gradual increase in bond yields, and Hartman said stocks can keep climbing as long as rates do rise at a measured pace.

US stock indexes held close to their record levels on Tuesday, and the Standard & Poor's 500 edged higher as calm continues to reign over markets around the world. The S&P 500 lost 3.06 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,748.23. The index is already up more than 4% for 2018. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 205.60 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,574.73, the Nasdaq composite gained 58.21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,211.78 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks surged 26.99 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,586.79.

Signet Jewelers had the largest loss of the S&P 500 after it reported weaker sales for the holiday season than a year earlier.

Target rose 3.4 percent. Investors are now looking ahead to the latest quarterly corporate earnings reports and consumer price inflation report later during the USA trading day. That's up from 2.40% at the start of the year.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury went as high as 2.59 percent in the morning before falling back to 2.55 percent, the same level it was at late Tuesday.

Investors have been preparing for a gradual rise in rates, as the Federal Reserve slowly removes the aid it provided the economy following the Great Recession. Banks were benefiting from higher bond yields.

The stock market's fantastic start to 2018 stalled on Wednesday after real-estate companies and other dividend payers sank on concerns about rising interest rates.

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On the opposite end were banks, which can make bigger profits from loans when interest rates rise.

But some caution is starting to creep in as prices keep climbing. The next test for the market may arrive in coming weeks as companies report how much profit they made in the last three months of 2017. "Things are good enough to keep things going solidly, at least for the first half of 2018".

Real estate stocks fell 1.5%; that was the sharpest loss of the 11 sectors in the S&P 500.

Financial companies are some of the earliest to report, and BlackRock jumped 17.61 dollars, or 3.3%, to 555.53 dollars after it reported stronger earnings than analysts expected.

Facebook dropped 4.5 percent after saying it will make changes that will result in users seeing fewer posts from brands. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dipped 0.1 percent to 31,032.51 while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 percent to 3,405.93.

The CAC 40 in France rose 0.6 percent, the DAX in Germany edged up 0.1 percent and the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.4 percent. Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 22 cents to $63.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the global standard, gained 10 cents to $67.88 per barrel. The euro strengthened to a four-month high after the European Central Bank indicated in its latest report that it might revise the outlook for its stimulus program, rising to $1.2049 from $1.2033 late Thursday.

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