Business

Retailers, energy companies lead stocks a bit higher

US stock indexes finished with tiny gains Wednesday as retailers jumped after a strong hiring forecast from Target and energy companies rose along with oil prices.

Target said it will hire 100,000 workers for the holiday season, about 30,000 more than last year. Energy companies rose after the government said oil and gasoline stockpiles shrank last week. Those gains were almost canceled out as technology and health care companies, which have led the market higher this year, slipped.

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With stocks at record highs, investors hunted for bargains. Retailers and energy and telecommunications companies have all struggled this year and finished higher Wednesday.

One reason stocks may have held steady: the Federal Reserve meets next week, and along with the usual questions about interest rates and the Fed’s balance sheet, investors are wondering about the central bank’s leadership. Chair Janet Yellen’s four-year term ends in February, and it’s not clear if President Trump will replace her.

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.1 percent to 2,498.37. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 0.2 percent to 22,158.18. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.1 percent to 6,460.19. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.2 percent to 1,426.89.

Target’s stock climbed 2.8 percent. Best Buy rose 3.2 percent, and Gap gained 2.2 percent. GameStop added 2.5 percent, and Amazon.com rose 1.7 percent.

Nordstrom climbed 6 percent after CNBC said the Nordstrom family is close to a deal to take the company private.

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Western Digital slumped 3.4 percent after its partner Toshiba said it will sell its computer memory business to a consortium led by Bain Capital Private Equity. Western Digital wants to buy that business and has sued to stop Toshiba from selling it to anyone else. Toshiba is trying to offset losses at its Westinghouse Electric nuclear business, which sought bankruptcy protection in March.

US crude rose 2.2 percent to $49.30 a barrel.

Equifax hit an 18-month low in heavy trading. It disclosed Thursday that personal data of about 143 million Americans was compromised in a cyberattack. The stock dropped another 14.6 percent, to $98.99. It traded above $142 last week before news of the attack.

Apple slipped again, by 0.75 percent. Investors appeared worried about the $999 price tag of the 10th-anniversary iPhone X as well as its early November launch date.

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