US stocks edge to records again, dollar gains

Wall Street overcame early profit taking to close at new records, as investors remained bullish about economic data and corporate earnings, as well as signs of life for US tax reform

Wall Street stocks edged to fresh records Wednesday, boosted by petroleum-linked equities, while the US dollar gained on nascent signs of life in Washington tax reform.

Frankfurt and Paris also finished slightly higher, but London retreated ahead of a Bank of England meeting.

US stocks opened lower in a move attributed to profit taking after Tuesday's records. But investor sentiment remains modestly bullish due to expectations for solid economic data and corporate earnings, analysts said.

All three major US equity indices finished at records for a second day in a row, although the margin was narrow. The broad S&P 500 added just 0.1 percent.

Energy producers and suppliers were boosted after the International Energy Agency lifted its 2017 forecast for oil demand and reported that global petroleum stocks had worked off much of their overhang.

Retailers were another strong sector following news that big-box chain Target plans to hire 100,000 seasonal workers ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

Gains in those two sectors helped offset weakness in health and some other sectors.

The dollar gained on the euro and other currencies as House Republican leaders set September 25 as a target date to release an outline of tax cut plan, a statement that raised hopes anew.

"So far, the market has been skeptical because the plan has been vague and while it's still unclear how much progress has been made, setting a specific date to share more information gives investors hope which can go a long way," said Kathy Lien, managing director of BK Asset Management.

But there is still a long way to go in Washington, analysts noted.

"It appears there is still a lack of compromise between lawmakers about how to position tax cuts without adding to the budget deficit and to the debt burden," cautioned Rabobank analyst Jane Foley.

And while Trump has signaled support for reaching a compromise with Democrats "this would clearly water down the objectives of some Republican Party members."

London's FTSE, meanwhile, retreated again, losing 0.3 percent ahead of Thursday's Bank of England meeting as sterling strengthened.

While analysts widely expect the BoE to leave interest rates unchanged, a less accommodating stance by other central bankers, coupled with higher inflation in Britain, could lead to a more "hawkish" policy statement.

"If the BoE votes 7-2 to leave interest rates unchanged and send a hawkish signal to the market, (the British pound) will rise," Lien said.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - DOW: UP 0.2 percent at 22,158.18 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,498.37 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 6,460.19 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,379.70 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,553.57 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,217.59 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,523.14 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 19,865.82 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 27,894.08 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,384.15 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1885 from $1.1964

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.47 yen from 110.18 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3208 from $1.3280

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 89 cents at $55.16 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP $1.07 at $49.30 per barrel