By Shreyashi Sanyal
U.S. stocks inched higher for a fifth day on Friday, as declines in real estate and utilities were offset by gains for banking stocks, driven by a rise in 10-year U.S. government bond yields above 3 percent.
Financial stocks rose 0.52 percent, the most among the 11 major S&P 500 sectors, after the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield broke back above the key technical level for the first time since the start of August. [US/]
Helping drive yields was August U.S. retail sales which recorded their smallest gain in six months. An upward revision to July data also kept intact expectations of strong economic growth in the third quarter.
Seven of the S&P's 11 sectors, however, were lower, led by a 1.5-percent slide in the real estate index and a 1.1-percent drop in utilities.
Weighing on utilities was NiSource (NYSE:NI), which tumbled 10.1 percent after fire investigators said they suspected the company's unit Columbia Gas was linked to a series of gas explosions in Boston suburbs on Thursday.
"Passing the 3 percent level should buoy financials," said Tom White, chief market strategist at TradeWise Advisors in Chicago, Illinois.
"Investors are being prudent because they are going into sectors that have been beaten up and taking profits out from those that have rallied. It's going to be a stock-picker's market."
At 10:59 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1 percent at 26,175.05. The S&P 500 rose 0.08 percent to 2,906.56 and the Nasdaq Composite 0.26 percent to 8,034.30.
The Federal Reserve said on Friday that U.S. industrial production rose 0.4 percent in August, as strong output in auto manufacturing offset lackluster production in the rest of the factory sector. That, added to signs this week that Beijing and Washington are returning to the table, helped prod industrial stocks 0.1 percent higher.
Tech stocks gained 0.17 percent, despite Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) slipping 0.6 percent, with Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE) rising 3.2 percent after the company topped quarterly revenue and profit expectations. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) fell 0.6 percent after Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) raised questions around the retailer's purchase of a majority stake in India's Flipkart. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a ratio of 1.33-to-1 on the NYSE, but advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.07-to-1 on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 33 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 63 new highs and 32 new lows.