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Wall Street climbs to fresh highs after Tillerson's comments

Wall Street climbs to fresh highs after Tillerson's comments
October 4, 2017

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street scaled new record highs on Wednesday after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied reports that he considered resigning, allaying fears of fresh turmoil in the Trump administration.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq reversed early losses following Tillerson’s comments, while the Dow extended gains.

His comments come days after Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned following an uproar over his use of costly private charter planes for government business.

Investors fretted that another departure could weigh on Trump’s efforts to push through his much-awaited tax reform, one of his key 2016 campaign promises.

“The markets are going to breathe a sigh of relief that Tillerson is staying in office,” said John Brady, senior vice president at futures brokerage R.J. O‘Brien & Associates in Chicago.

“The markets are going to grind a little bit higher.”

Meanwhile, latest economic data helped soothe investors who had been worried about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma dragging on U.S. economic growth.

The vast services sector overcame hurricane-related snags to expand at its fastest pace in 12 years, even as the deadly storms weighed on September hiring.

The rest of the week is also loaded with economic data, culminating in Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report for September.

At 12:34 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average . was up 34.55 points, or 0.15 percent, at 22,676.22. The S&P 500 . was up 4.73 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,539.31.

The Nasdaq Composite . was up 8.83 points, or 0.14 percent, at 6,540.54.

Eight of the 11 major S&P indexes were higher, led by the consumer discretionary .SPLRCD and healthcare .SPXHC sectors.

Healthcare was boosted by Mylan , which surged 19 percent after the U.S. FDA approved the company’s copycat version of Teva’s blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug. Teva Pharmaceutical slumped 14 percent.

Wells Fargo & Co’s shares were down 1.2 percent after the bank said it would refund some mortgage rate lock extension fees.

But, the S&P information technology index .SPLRCT, up about 26 percent this year, was on pace to post its first drop in seven sessions.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,429 to 1,331. On the Nasdaq, 1,599 issues rose and 1,206 fell.