Wall St advances but remains range-bound

Wall St advances but remains range-bound

New York: Wall Street advanced on Wednesday but remained hemmed in a recent trading range as disappointing economic data hindered the S&P 500 from breaking through a stubborn technical level.

Markets were pressured early by a report showing a measure of New York state business conditions slipped to the lowest level in more than a year, while industrial output rose at a slower rate in August.

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The S&P found support shortly after the reports at its 200-day moving average, climbing back above the 1,115 level.

But the benchmark index was once again unable to pierce the 1,130 threshold, seen as a key resistance level by analysts, which, if breached, could spark further buying.

“Pretty much everything was down across the board as far as the data, and the market really didn’t flinch. It recovered quite nicely once the bell rang," said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago.

“We are due for a serious test of that 1,130 this week, and we should get a determination there. Maybe we are just taking a pause before that next charge begins."

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 46.24 points, or 0.44%, to 10,572.73. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 3.97 points, or 0.35%, to 1,125.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 11.55 points, or 0.50%, to 2,301.32.

Among the top decliners, energy shares were pressured by a fall in crude oil prices and technology shares lost ground after some bearish analyst comments.

Equities were little moved after the Japanese government intervened in global currency markets to sell yen for the first time in six years, though the U.S. dollar climbed.

October crude futures settled down 1% to $76.02 per barrel, while the S&P Energy index lost 0.2%.

Chevron Corp slipped 0.4% to $79.21 and was among the top decliners on the Dow.

Fellow Dow component Kraft Foods Inc gained 1.7% to $31.59 after saying it would squeeze another $1 billion in revenue from its global business by 2013 as its North American business faces challenges.

Semiconductors edged lower after Goldman Sachs downgraded chipmakers Micron Technology Inc to “neutral" and Maxim Integrated Products Inc to “sell."

Micron shares lost 4.5% to $6.94 and Maxim shed 0.5% to $16.75. The Philadelphia semiconductor index fell 0.3%.

Volume was light with about 6.6 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, well below last year’s estimated daily average of 9.65 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by about 1.1 to 1, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners four to three.