With half the trading week over, stocks moved confidently higher by the market close on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 23,000 points for the first time ever, driven largely by strong earnings from component International Business Machines (IBM) . The blue-chip index closed up about 0.7%. The S&P 500 Index gained about 0.1% by the close, while the Nasdaq moved higher by about the same amount before closing close to flat. All three benchmark indexes scored new intraday highs in earlier trading.
The Fed released its latest Beige Book Wednesday, reporting that economic activity expanded in all of the Fed's districts. Growth was between modest and moderate. Employment growth was modest as most districts reported tight labor markets. A shortage of requisite skilled workers has somewhat weighed on business growth. The Fed said its Atlanta, Richmond and Dallas districts reported major disruptions from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in some areas and sectors, including transportation, energy and agriculture.
Healthcare stocks were mixed Wednesday after rising earlier. The industry had benefited from high hopes over a bipartisan deal to continue subsidies for insurance companies. Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray reached a deal on Tuesday afternoon to continue cost-sharing reduction payments for two more years. But on Wednesday, President Trump pulled back on support he had originally offered for the bipartisan deal. Trump's tone reversal erased some gains for a few industry heavyweights. The Health Care SPDR ETF (XLV) was up about 0.1% after gaining nearly four times that in earlier trading.
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