Wall Street gains on benign inflation data; Boeing extends fall

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks eked out gains on Tuesday as benign February inflation data supported the Federal Reserve’s dovish stance on future rate hikes, but Boeing’s fall for a second straight session pressured the Dow and capped gains in broader markets.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the post where Boeing is traded at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.2 percent last month, in line with estimates from economists polled by Reuters.

Investors are also watching out for developments on the Brexit front. British lawmakers who rejected May’s withdrawal agreement in January are due to vote on the Brexit deal again at around 3:00 p.m. ET (1900 GMT).

Britain’s exit from the European Union hung in the balance on Tuesday after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said last-minute legally binding assurances won by Prime Minister Theresa May to her divorce deal left the legal risk over the Irish backstop unchanged.

“It is difficult to assess the seemingly conflicting stories on Brexit that come out. The story has gotten so complicated in terms on how it could be resolved,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

Boeing Co fell 3.3 percent, extending a fall from the previous session as more countries grounded the planemaker’s best selling line of jets amid heightened anxiety among travelers about the safety of the plane.

The fall weighed on airline stocks and pushed the Dow Jones airlines index 2.6 percent lower.

“The Boeing news is in focus as it is a big part of the U.S. economy and whether Boeing is responsible in some way or if there is a problem in its aircraft is something investors are still trying to digest,” Meckler said.

The world’s largest planemaker, which is the best performing Dow component this year by a wide margin, fell as much as 13.4 percent on Monday and dragged down the Dow Jones index.

However the blue-chip Dow pared losses, and all three indexes ended Monday higher boosted by a rally in tech stocks led by Apple Inc.

Apple rose 0.7 percent and was the biggest boost to the S&P and Nasdaq, after the iPhone maker invited media to a March 25 event where it is expected to launch a television and video service.

At 9:48 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 34.54 points, or 0.13 percent, at 25,616.34, the S&P 500 was up 6.19 points, or 0.22 percent, at 2,789.49 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 7.06 points, or 0.09 percent, at 7,565.12.

Wall Street’s main indexes had posted five straight sessions of declines in the previous week, their biggest weekly fall since 2018-end.

Coca-Cola Co dipped 0.1 percent after HSBC downgraded the soda maker’s stock.

F5 Networks Inc slipped 7.7 percent after network software maker said it would buy privately held, NGINX.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.07-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.12-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 35 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 25 new highs and four new lows.

Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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