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Stock indexes inch higher after back-to-back down weeks

| Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, 5:00 p.m.
Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
AFP/Getty Images
Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

NEW YORK — Stocks inched higher Monday, as the Standard & Poor's 500 index steadied following back-to-back losses the last two weeks.

This week may be a calmer one for the stock market, after an uncharacteristically bumpy stretch shook what had been an incredibly smooth ride higher for stocks this year. Few market-moving events are on the calendar this week, and the highlight will likely arrive when central bankers from around the world gather in Wyoming as the weekend approaches.

The S&P 500 rose 2.82 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,428.37 after it and other indexes flipped between small gains and losses throughout the day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 29.24, or 0.1 percent, to 21,703.75, and the Nasdaq composite slipped 3.40 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,213.13.

The modest moves were a return to form for the market. It's had just four days this year where the S&P 500 has dropped by more than 1 percent, which is well below the typical number in recent decades. But half those instances occurred in the last two weeks, stoked by worries about discord in Washington and the potential for war abroad.

“One of the reasons the market has held in and performed well recently — although it's wobbled a bit in the last two weeks — has been earnings,” said Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust. “Without the earnings that we saw, it would have been a much more difficult period of time for the market.”

Companies are mostly done reporting their results for the spring quarter, and their growth in profits was stronger than analysts expected. Not only that, businesses also reported higher revenues. That's encouraging given the struggles many companies have had in recent years to grow amid the still-sluggish global economy.

Cecilia said he anticipates few drivers that could move markets much in either direction in the coming weeks, and he expects the market to “trade in some sort of sideways fashion.”

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