US stock indexes end mostly lower; Nasdaq notches new high
By Alex Veiga
A subdued day of trading on Wall Street ended Tuesday with stocks closing mostly lower even as the Nasdaq composite notched another record high.
Utilities, phone companies and other high-dividend paying stocks were among the biggest decliners. Energy stocks also fell along with a drop in the price of crude oil. Technology companies climbed the most. Financials also eked out a small gain.
Investors sized up the latest crop of company earnings and new data on home construction and industrial production.
“The economic data that we’ve seen today is sort of what we’ve seen the last few weeks, some good, some bad,” said Jim Davis, regional investment strategist at the Private Client Group at U.S. Bank.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped 1.65 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,400.67. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 2.19 points, or 0.01 percent, to 20,979.75. The Nasdaq gained 20.20 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,169.87. The tech-heavy index and the S&P 500 each hit new highs on Monday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks rose 0.76 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,394.68. More stocks fell than rose on the on the New York Stock Exchange.
The stock indexes headed higher early Tuesday, but spent much of the day trading in a narrow range, wavering between small gains and losses.
The Federal Reserve provided some positive economic news, reporting that industrial production at U.S. factories, mines and utilities shot up 1 percent in April from March. That’s the biggest gain since February 2014 and the third straight monthly gain. The increase was more than twice what economists had expected.
A separate report on residential construction was less encouraging.
The Commerce Department said home construction fell for a second straight month in April, marking the slowest pace in five months. Housing starts slid 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million units. The weakness was led by a big drop in construction of apartments, a volatile sector.
While disappointing, the report didn’t appear to weigh much on the market. Most homebuilders closed higher, led by LGI Homes, which rose $1.26, or 3.9 percent, to $33.95.
Traders also had their eye on the latest crop of quarterly results from companies.
Home Depot got a small boost after topping expectations for profit and revenue in the first quarter. The home-improvement retailer also raised its profit outlook for the year. The stock gained 93 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $158.26.
“Home-improvement and beauty retailers are really where the strength is within the retail sector, and of course, online,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA.
Among the other big movers that reported improved quarterly report cards Tuesday: Online and mobile media services company Sina jumped $15, or 17.8 percent, to $99.04.
Several companies that delivered disappointing results fell sharply.
Dick’s Sporting Goods slumped $6.53, or 13.7 percent, to $41.04, while apparel and home fashions retailer The TJX Cos. slid $3.14, or 4.1 percent, to $73.76.
Staples also gave up 3.5 percent after the office supply chain reported revenue for the latest quarter that fell far short of what Wall Street analysts were expecting. The stock lost 33 cents to $8.99.
News that two private equity firms disclosed a combined 8 percent stake in Etsy sent shares in the online crafts site sharply higher. The stock climbed $2.41, or 21.3 percent, to $13.73.
Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, surging $1.33, or 11.7 percent, to $12.75.
Energy prices declined Tuesday, giving back some of the gains from a day earlier on news that a group of oil-producing countries had cut production in hopes of supporting the price of oil.
Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 19 cents to close at $48.66 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 17 cents to settle at $51.65 a barrel in London.
The price of oil has swung sharply in recent years, from more than $100 three years ago to less than $30 last year, as concerns rise and fall that supplies will overwhelm demand.
In other futures trading, natural gas fell 12 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $3.23 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.52 per gallon, while wholesale gasoline added 1 cent to $1.60 per gallon.
The price of gold rose $6.40 to settle at $1,236.40 per ounce. Silver added 13 cents to $16.69 per ounce.
Copper gained 1 cent to $2.55 per pound.
In currency trading, the dollar declined to 113.03 yen from Monday’s 113.68 yen. The euro gained to $1.1095 from $1.0978.
Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.33 percent.
Major stock indexes in Europe were mixed. Germany’s DAX was flat, while France’s CAC-40 was down 0.2 percent. London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 percent and Seoul’s Kospi added 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.1 percent.