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Stock markets lost a little of their momentum

Published August 27, 2014 8:41 am

Wall Street • Smith & Wesson Holding shares fell 14 percent after gunmaker lowered targets.
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The rally that propelled the Standard & Poor's 500 index above a record 2,000 lost a little bit of momentum Wednesday.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1 point to 2,000.12, with about the same number of stocks rising as falling. About 4.2 billion shares changed hands across U.S. exchanges, the lowest volume since July 3, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

"The market is not overly expensive, not cheap either," Ethan Anderson, senior portfolio manager at Rehmann Financial in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said by phone. His firm oversees $1.5 billion. "In the absence of strong corporate earnings, you are not necessarily going to see a huge surge in equities over the next 12 months. But the little notch up, on a regular basis, you're likely to see continue."

Global markets are surmounting crises in Ukraine, the Gaza Strip and Iraq as investors renew bets that stimulus will revive growth. Rallies from Brazil to Japan and the U.S. gauge's first trip above 2,000 have sent the value of global equities to a record $66 trillion.

The S&P 500 is up almost 5 percent since Aug. 7, boosted by speculation the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low as the economy strengthens. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has also signaled policy makers may consider introducing an asset-buying plan.

The U.S. equity benchmark has seen gains in 11 of the past 14 days. It trades at 18 times the reported earnings of its companies, near the highest level since 2010.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 15.31 points to 17,122.01. The Nasdaq composite index was little changed after a four-day rally. Among industries in the S&P 500, telephone and utility stocks had the biggest gains, while energy, financial and technology shares fell the most.

"In the U.S., you're seeing businesses do very well," Doug Foreman, chief investment officer at Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management in Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview. His firm oversees about $9 billion. "We're in a situation where there are still some macro risks, but they're overwhelmed by the micro, which is surprisingly good."

Tiffany & Co. added 1 percent after posting second-quarter profit that topped analysts' estimates and raised its earnings forecast for the year as higher prices boosted revenue.

Smith & Wesson Holding tumbled 14 percent after the gunmaker cut its full-year sales and profit forecast amid declining demand. Chico's FAS, a women's clothing retailer, slumped 4.6 percent on lower-than-estimated sales.

Michaels jumped 9.3 percent as the arts and crafts retailer reported second-quarter earnings that topped analysts' estimates. Express increased 13 percent after the apparel chain raised its full-year profit forecast.

Best Buy, the world's largest electronics chain, rose 6.3 percent after posting second-quarter profit that topped analysts' estimates, helped by lower costs.

"U.S. markets continue to defy geopolitical worries," Richard Hunter, the head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown in London, wrote in an email. "Many of the blocks are in place for the equity markets to make further progress."