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The Dow notched another record high on Wednesday to join the S&P 500 in the green. The index was boosted by gains made by Microsoft, encouraging European economic data and investors’ expectations of the Federal Reserve continuing with its stimulus program. However, Nasdaq finished in the negative zone dragged by a significant drop in Tesla Motors’ shares. Among the S&P 500 industry groups, utilities gained the most, while Consumer Discretionary ended on the losing side.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.8% to close the day at 15,746.88. The S&P 500 added 0.4% to finish Wednesday’s trading session at 1,770.49. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 0.2% to end at 3,931.95. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined 4.5% to settle at 12.67. Total volume on the NYSE was 3.4 billion shares. Advancing stocks outnumbered the decliners. For 52% shares that advanced, 45% declined.

Shares of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) jumped more than 4%, its highest level in twelve years as the company was close to ending its search for a CEO.  This development helped the Dow to touch a new record high and also lifted the S&P 500 higher. The company’s shares rose 4.2 % to $38.18, the highest since July 2000.

Markets were also boosted by encouraging industrial orders data from Germany. The Economy Ministry in Berlin reported that adjusted orders increased 3.3% in September. Not only did the orders situation improve after the 0.3% fall in August, but also outperformed consensus estimates. After adjusting for the number of working days, orders were up 7.9% year on year.

Also helping benchmarks end in the green were expectations that the Fed would continue its stimulus program at its current pace for some more time. Investors will get a couple of important economic reports today and tomorrow. The Commerce Department is expected to release a report on the U.S. economy’s performance in the third quarter on Thursday. Jobs data, which was delayed for a week due to the government shutdown, is also slated to be released on Friday. Both reports may indicate the timing of the Fed’s proposed tapering of its $85 billion bond-buying program, which is designed to keep interest rates low and boost the economy.

The Nasdaq was the sole benchmark to miss out on a finish in positive territory. A 14.51% drop in Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA), was the primary factor responsible for the Nasdaq ending in the red. Tesla’s shares dropped after the electric car manufacturer forecasted a weaker-than-anticipated fourth-quarter profit and deliveries of the Model S disappointed.
Separately, Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE:RL) shares advanced 5.5% to $180.52 after the designer clothing
 company raised the lower end of its yearly sales forecast. It was one of the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 
yesterday.
 
However, shares of another clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF) dropped 13.5% to $33.13 after the company reported a seventh consecutive decline in quarterly sales. It also provided a initial warning of a tough holiday season ahead. The company has cut its yearly profit forecast to a range of $1.40 to $1.50 per share, which is well below the $1.95 per share projected by analysts. Net sales for the quarter slipped 12% to $1.033 billion, falling short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.074 billion.
 
The utilities sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups on Wednesday. The Industry SPDR (XLU) gained 1.4%. Stocks such as Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK), Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE:D), NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE), The Southern Company (NYSE:SO), and Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) increased 1.1%, 2.3%, 1.3%, 1.6%, and 2.7% respectively.
 
The consumer discretionary sector was the biggest loser among the S&P 500 industry groups on Friday. The consumer discretionary SPDR (XLY) lost 0.3%. Stocks such as Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), the Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD), Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ:FOXA), and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) decreased 0.8%, 0.1%, 0.3%, 0.5%, and 1.1% respectively.

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