The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reached its highest level since the August selloff, rising as biotechnology companies rebounded and energy shares extended their longest rally since December 2013.
The benchmark index again tested points where an advance petered out at the end of August and a September rally wilted. The gauge had erased gains earlier Wednesday after briefly climbing above its average price during the past 50 days. Commodity stocks rose for a seventh session, weathering through a late-morning fade, with the appeal of the beaten-down energy and raw-materials groups enhanced by the dollar’s recent weakness.
The S&P 500 advanced 0.8 percent to 1,995.80 at 4 p.m. in New York, rebounding from a midday drop of as much as 0.2 percent that erased an early rally. The index retreated twice after reaching its 50-day moving average at 1,996.57.
Earnings season will grab an increased share of investors’ attention this week, with Alcoa Inc. unofficially kicking off the reporting season after markets close tomorrow. Companies reporting next week include Johnson & Johnson, Intel Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Analysts project profits for S&P 500 members dropped 6.9 percent in the third quarter. Still, a Fed measure of corporate income has posted its biggest quarterly increase since 2012, suggesting the overall picture for profits may be skewed by downgrades at energy producers combating weak oil prices.
Among the season’s early reporters, Yum Brands Inc. tumbled the most in 13 years after the owner of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains posted profits that missed analysts’ estimates. Results were hurt by a lingering slump in China.
Stocks have swung between gains and losses since August’s tumble, amid concern about a slowing global economy triggered by weakness in China, and confusion over the Federal Reserve’s policy intentions. The S&P 500 has rebounded 4 percent since ending its worst quarter in four years, and is up 6.9 percent from an August low reached during the index’s first correction since 2011.
Expectations for higher borrowing costs this year have diminished since the weaker-than-expected September jobs report last Friday. Traders are pricing in a 39 percent chance of an increase in December and 61 percent probability of a move higher in March.