Stocks edge higher in early trading, holding near records

Stocks edged higher in early trading on Wall Street today and remained near record highs set last week after investors welcomed an update from the Federal Reserve.

The central bank signaled that it will maintain low interest rates as the economy continues recovering from the pandemic. Markets have been choppy as investors tried to gauge how much and how quickly the Fed will ease its support.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3% as of 9:06 a.m. Central. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 76 points, or 0.2%, to 35,379 and the Nasdaq rose 0.6%.

Technology stocks, which benefit from low interest rates, did much of the heavy lifting for the broader market. Health care companies also had solid gains and helped lift the benchmark S&P 500.

Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.29% from 1.31% late Friday.

Energy prices mostly fell as the the full impact of Hurricane Ida is still being assessed. The storm will likely take a toll on the energy, chemical and shipping industries that have major hubs along the Gulf Coast, but the impact on the overall U.S. economy should be modest so long as damage estimates don’t rise sharply and refinery shutdowns are not prolonged, economists suggested.

Crude oil prices fell 0.7%, while natural gas prices slumped 2.6% as Colonial Pipeline shut down deliveries in the south until it can assess damage from the storm.

Deal news helped lift several stocks. Affirm soared 43% after the payments company announced a deal last week with Amazon to offer shoppers a buy-now-pay-later option that doesn’t involve credit cards. Hill-Rom Holdings jumped 10.4% following reports that Baxter International is interested in buying the medical technology company.

Investors have several key economic reports to look forward to this week, including consumer confidence on Tuesday and the closely watched monthly employment survey from the Labor Department on Friday. Both could help investors better gauge the economic recovery’s path as it faces some resistance from a surge in virus cases because of the more contagious delta variant.