U.S. Stocks Mostly Higher, Buoyed by Gains in Telecom Companies

12/12/17 10:37 AM EST
By David Hodari 
   -- Dow industrials, S&P 500 rise 
   -- Energy, tech upbeat in Europe 
   -- Investors look to central banks 

Gains among telecommunications companies pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 higher Tuesday.

The Dow industrials rose 94 points, or 0.4%, to 24477 soon after the opening bell, while the S&P 500 gained 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1%.

Shares of Comcast advanced 2.3%, putting it among the S&P 500's biggest gainers, after the cable and programming firm said it was no longer pursuing an acquisition of media and entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox.

Verizon shares rose 1.3% after a deal to show NFL football games on its mobile network, as well as its Yahoo, Yahoo Sports and go90 mobile platforms.

Boeing was the Dow industrial's biggest point contributor, rising nearly 3%. The aerospace giant said it would boost its quarterly dividend by 20% and raise its buyback authorization to $18 billion.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.4%, while most indexes in Asia ended the session lower.

Meanwhile, investors were keeping a close watch on how Republicans proceeded with their tax overhaul, as well as policy updates from global central banks. The U.S., European, and U.K. central banks, among others, are scheduled to meet this week, with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi due to give a speech Tuesday.

"The main focus from Draghi is that we'll get new economic forecasts and we'll get 2020 [forecasts] for the first time. He may also give more detail on how [the ECB] plans to scale back purchases to EUR30 billion [$35 billion] from EUR60 billion. Will they halve all purchases or take a more nuanced approach?" said James Knightley, chief international economist at ING.

Also scheduled for Tuesday was the start of the Federal Open Market Committee's two-day meeting, with the body's interest-rate decision due Wednesday. Data from CME Group showed investors were betting on a 100% probability that the Fed will announce a rate increase.

Fed observers shouldn't expect many surprises in the months ahead either, said Mark Richards, a global multiasset strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management. December's meeting will be the last for multiple FOMC members, and given an impending change in chairperson in January, "it doesn't feel like a new Fed chair will seek to alter the policy path materially, so we expect [the current guidance of three increases] to be maintained for a good few months."

Stocks in Asia, meanwhile, struggled. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.6%, dragged lower by heavyweight Tencent Holdings. The tech company fell 3% after disclosing that one of its units is in talks to acquire a minority stake in supermarket operator Yonghui.

South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.4%, despite a 0.6% gain for index heavyweight Samsung Electronics. Japan's Nikkei closed 0.3% lower partly thanks to a slight drop in the yen against the dollar.

Regional selling also dragged on Chinese stocks, with the Shanghai Composite down 1.3%.

--Michael Wursthorn contributed to this article.

Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 12, 2017 10:37 ET (15:37 GMT)

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