Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

U.S. Stocks Eke Out Weekly Gain, Led by High-Dividend Companies

  • Utility, real estate and phone shares lead market higher
  • Financial companies decline with Treasury yields as Fed hikes

U.S. equities rose this week thanks largely to advances in companies with high dividends that investors turn to when bond yields fall.

The S&P 500 Index added 0.2 percent to 2,378.25. The biggest boost came Wednesday after the Federal Reserve raised the benchmark lending rate a quarter point and maintained its projection for two more increases this year. At the same time, the Bloomberg Economic Surprise Index advanced for the fourth straight week as data from payrolls to inflation figures met or exceeded estimates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was little changed at 20,914.62. The Russell 200 Index jumped 1.9 percent, the most since December.

“The Fed can lift rates and it is far from being bad news for equities,” Tobias Levkovich, managing director and head of U.S. equity strategy at Citigroup Global Markets Inc., wrote in a note to clients Friday. “Yet, higher rates could be an issue for some equity areas, particularly growth stocks and small caps.”

Lower bond yields had a mixed effect on the market: high-dividend companies targeted by investors seeking fixed payments rallied, while financial shares declined 0.9 percent for the second straight weekly loss. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell 7.4 basis points in the week. For the second week in a row, utility companies were among the best-performing groups, along with real estate and phone shares.

With the earnings season nearing its end, about three-quarters of S&P 500 firms that have reported results exceeded profit estimates and about half beat sales forecasts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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