Wall Street ticks up; dividend payers rise as GE slashes payout

Wall Street ticks up; dividend payers rise as GE slashes payout

U.S. stock index futures were marginally lower on Monday as uncertainty over the future of President Donald Trump's tax reform plan weighed on the sentiment.

Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK: U.S. stock indexes rose on Monday as a sharp drop in General Electric shares was more than offset by gains in high dividend-paying sectors including consumer staples and utilities.

General Electric slashed its dividend by 50 percent and cut its profit forecast while unveiling a plan that narrowed its focus on aviation, power and healthcare.

Shares of the industrial conglomerate fell 8.1 percent to US$18.84 after touching a more than five-year low of US$18.75.

"It's a big deal in terms of GE's world. That could be very well why utilities are getting a bid today as you see the search for yield continue," said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago.

Utilities and consumer staples rank among the sectors with the highest dividend yield on the S&P 500. They were also the largest percentage winning sectors on Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 38.55 points, or 0.16 percent, to 23,460.76, the S&P 500 gained 5.36 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,587.66 and the Nasdaq Composite added 15.24 points, or 0.23 percent, to 6,766.18.

Investors are closely tracking developments around the tax bill after U.S. Senate Republicans last week unveiled a new plan that differed from the House of Representatives' version.

Some relief for investors did come from the regulatory side, and shares of regional banks rose after the Wall Street Journal reported a bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers reached a tentative agreement to ease some regulations on the sector.

The KBW Regional Banking Index turned positive mid-session and was last up 1.4 percent after steadily climbing in afternoon trading.

Toymaker Mattel jumped 21.2 percent to US$17.72 after a report that rival Hasbro made an approach to acquire the company. Hasbro rose 6.3 percent to US$97.17.

Qualcomm gained 3.0 percent to US$66.52 after the chipmaker rejected rival Broadcom's US$103-billion takeover bid, saying the offer "dramatically" undervalued the company.

Tyson Foods shares climbed 1.5 percent to US$75.26 after the meat processor said low prices for livestock feed will help boost results again next year. Shares touched their highest since September 2016.

Roku shares continued to rally, up 27.1 percent on Monday to US$42.25 more than doubling since the company reported earnings last week. The stock debuted at US$15.78 on Sept. 28 after having priced its IPO at US$14.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.14-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.01-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 39 new 52-week highs and nine new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 65 new highs and 73 new lows.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos in New York; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew and David K. Randall; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Source: Reuters