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Financial Markets                      02/27 16:08

   

   NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks held near their record levels on Tuesday after 
a quiet day of trading.

   The S&P 500 added 8.65 points, or 0.2%, to 5,078.18 and is just off its 
all-time high set last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 96.82, or 
0.2%, to 38,972.41, and the Nasdaq composite rose 59.05, or 0.4%, to 16,035.30.

   Macy's climbed 3.4% after reporting better results for the latest quarter 
than feared. It also announced a sweeping reorganization as it tries to 
kickstart growth in revenue. It will close about 150 stores and focus on 
opening new Bloomingdale's and Bluemercury locations.

   Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings steamed 19.8% higher for the biggest gain in 
the S&P 500 after saying it's seeing healthy demand from customers. It also 
gave a forecast for earnings this upcoming year that was bigger than analysts' 
own.

   AutoZone revved 6.7% higher after reporting a stronger profit than expected. 
Much of its growth last quarter came from its stores in Mexico and Brazil.

   Zoom Video Communications climbed after topping analysts' forecasts for 
profit last quarter. It rose 8% to $68.17, though it's still well below its 
peak above $560 during the height of the pandemic. It also announced a program 
to buy back up to $1.5 billion of its stock, which would send cash directly to 
shareholders.

   Those winners helped offset a 1.5% drop for Chevron, which warned that its 
pending takeover of Hess may be under threat. The energy companies are in 
discussions with Exxon Mobil and China National Offshore Oil Corp. about a 
joint operating agreement for a project off Guyana's shore. If they can't come 
to an acceptable resolution, Chevron said in a filing with U.S. securities 
regulators that its merger with Hess may not close.

   Chevron was one of the main reasons for the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 
slide. Hess fell 3.1%.

   Nvidia was another weight on the market, dipping 0.5% to take a bit of shine 
off its jaw-dropping run. Its stock is still up nearly 59% so far this year 
after soaring nearly 240% last year amid Wall Street's frenzy around 
artificial-intelligence technology.

   Moves for Nvidia's stock pack an extra weight on the S&P 500 because it's 
the third-largest stock on Wall Street by market value. It and a handful of 
other Big Tech companies have been responsible for a huge, disproportionate 
amount of the S&P 500's rally since its bottom in October 2022.

   To see how top-heavy the market has become, consider how the S&P 500 would 
be behaving if it gave each stock's movement the same weight regardless of 
size. The S&P 500 is beating that equal-weighted index on a one-year rolling 
basis by a wide margin, "just a whisker shy of the Dot.com bubble record 
highs," according to strategists at Barclays.

   Unlike that bubble, though, the companies driving the growth this time are 
actually making profits and not flying on just hype.

   "As such the investment case for continued outperformance remains intact, 
but arguably more vulnerable to occasional corrections, given ebullient 
sentiment," according to the strategists led by Stefano Pascale and Anshul 
Gupta.

   Along with tech stocks, cryptocurrency prices have also been running higher. 
Bitcoin rose above $57,000 before edging back below the threshold and is up by 
roughly a third so far this year already.

   New exchange-traded funds that hold bitcoin have made investing in the 
cryptocurrency easier, while also driving business for Coinbase and others who 
safeguard those ETFs' bitcoins. Coinbase rose 2.7% Tuesday to bring its gain 
for the year so far to 14.5%.

   Earnings reporting season is winding down for the big companies in the S&P 
500, and the hope is that a remarkably solid U.S. economy will help profits 
grow through this year.

   A report in the morning showed orders for long-lasting manufactured goods 
were weaker last month than economists expected, but they were better than 
forecast after ignoring airplanes and other transportation items.

   A separate report said that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly 
slipped. Confidence had been on the upswing, and it's a closely followed figure 
on Wall Street because spending by consumers makes up the bulk of the U.S. 
economy.

   On the upside for investors, the report also showed that expectations for 
inflation among U.S. consumers ticked down a bit.

   Treasury yields were mixed but held relatively steady following the reports. 
Yields have been climbing this year as traders push back forecasts for when the 
Federal Reserve may begin cutting interest rates.

   In stock markets abroad, indexes were mostly higher across Asia and Europe. 
Stocks jumped 1.3% in Shanghai but sank 0.8% in Seoul. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was 
little changed, remaining near its highest level in history.

   ___

   AP Business Writers Matt Ott and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.

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