S&P 500 rises as stocks look cap a strong first-half performance – CNBC

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U.S. equities traded mostly higher on Friday as Wall Street looks to cap a strong first-half performance.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent, with industrials and consumer discretionary leading advancers. The index has gained 8.3 percent this year, putting it on track for its biggest first-half gains since 2013, when it gained 12.6 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77 points, with Nike contributing the most gains. The 30-stock index has risen 8.1 percent through the first six months of the year, marking its best start to a year since 2013.

The Nasdaq composite traded just above breakeven. The tech-heavy index has easily outperformed the Dow and the S&P this year, surging 14.2 percent and was tracking for its largest first-half gains since 2009.

That said, the major indexes were on track to end the first half, and the second quarter, on a sour note. The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq were all lower for the week as technology stocks have rolled over.

Tech has been the best-performing sector for most of 2017, rising more than 15 percent in the period. But over the past month it has dropped more than 2 percent.

Still, Jason Hunter, a technical analyst at JPMorgan, said in a note Thursday the recent breakdown in the stock market is not the start of a “lasting and material correction.”

“While we have been growing more concerned about a summer top pattern and potential correction into the fall, that medium-term bearish reversal pattern has not developed yet,” Hunter said. “Furthermore, the current weakness is in part driven by the bearish global bond price action.”

Yields across the globe have been spiking higher lately amid hawkish rhetoric from key central bank officials, including European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

The 10-year German bund yield rose to about 0.46 percent from around 0.25 percent this week. U.S. Treasury yields followed their German counterparts higher, with the benchmark 10-year yield climbing to 2.28 percent from 2.15 percent.

Higher yields have helped bank stocks this week, with the SPDR S&P Bank exchange-traded fund (KBE) advancing 4 percent in the period.

The banks also received a boost after the Federal Reserve cleared capital returns programs for the big banks.

The central bank did not object to any of the buybacks or dividend hikes from the 34 banks it reviewed during the second phase of its annual stress test. This is the first time in the seven-year history of the tests implemented in the wake of the financial crisis that all banks have passed.

“Banks have a lot going for them,” said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird. “Not only could the economy be getting better and rates are rising, but regulations seem to be going down.”