US Stocks Close Mostly Higher as Energy Sector Gains
NEW YORK – Stocks finished mostly higher Tuesday in another cautious day of trading. Energy companies climbed in tandem with the price of oil, but technology companies fell.
The market wavered between small gains and losses throughout the day. Chemicals companies made the biggest gains, led by DuPont, while energy companies benefited from higher oil prices. Health care stocks fell on more regulatory scrutiny of drug pricing. The Nasdaq composite index fell for the fourth day in a row.
Trading has been light this week. Julian Emanuel, U.S. equities and derivatives strategist for UBS, said investors are waiting to see the results of Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan policy meetings in the next few days. The Fed is expected to leave interest rates unchanged, while the Bank of Japan could take new steps to stimulate Japan’s economy.
“People are very, very wary of taking big positions,” he said. “The commentary is going to be very closely parsed.”
The Dow Jones industrial average added 13.08 points, or 0.1 percent, at 17,990.32. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.91 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,091.70. The Nasdaq fell 7.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,888.31.
The price of benchmark U.S. crude oil jumped $1.40, or 3.3 percent, to $44.04 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.26, or 2.8 percent, to $45.74 a barrel in London.
That helped energy stocks, and ConocoPhillips rose $1.81, or 3.9 percent, to $48.08 while Pioneer Natural Resources gained $11.86, or 7.7 percent, to $165.36. Oil company BP rose $1.70, or 5.3 percent, to $33.49 after BP posted a larger-than-expected profit and it left its dividend unchanged even though oil prices and energy income has plunged.
Earnings reports continued to stream in after the market closed for the day. Apple’s first-quarter results disappointed investors as its sales fell for the first time in more than a decade and fell short of analysts’ forecasts. Apple sank $6.20, or 5.9 percent, to $98.15 in aftermarket trading. Twitter’s first-quarter revenue and its second-quarter forecast disappointed investors and its stock lost $1.90, or 10.7 percent, to $15.85 in after-hours trading.
Chemicals companies and makers of mining and construction equipment reported solid quarterly results. Emanuel of UBS said that energy, chemical and mining companies and heavy machinery makers are getting a hand from China’s economy, which is doing better than investors expected a few months ago.
DuPont picked up $1.58, or 2.4 percent, to $67.55. The chemicals giant expects a larger profit for the year, saying the strong dollar won’t hurt its results as much as it predicted. Dow Chemical, which is preparing to combine with DuPont, added $1.13, or 2.2 percent, to $53.67.
Truck leasing company Ryder System added $4.20, or 6.4 percent, to $69.45. Manufacturing company Ingersoll-Rand rose $1.36, or 2.1 percent, to $65.39. Truck maker Paccar gained $2.88, or 5.1 percent, to $58.93.
Telecommunications companies, one of the best performing parts of the market this year, fell on Tuesday. The stocks traded lower as bond prices fell and yields rose, making them more attractive to income-seeking investors compared to telecom stocks.
Drug companies fell as investors looked ahead to the latest Congressional panel on drug prices. The Senate Aging Committee will hold its third meeting on drug prices Wednesday, and on Tuesday the committee said former Valeant Pharmaceuticals executive Robert Schiller and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, an investor in Valeant, will both be questioned.
Investors in drug companies fear that Congressional scrutiny will make it harder for the companies to keep raising drug prices and keep their profits growing. Alexion Pharmaceuticals lost $4.01, or 2.5 percent, to $154.01. Vertex Pharmaceuticals fell $1.52, or 1.8 percent, to $84.14.
Elsewhere, specialty glass maker Corning lost $1.75, or 8.3 percent, to $19.22 after its sales were weaker than expected. Whirlpool, the appliance maker behind Maytag, KitchenAid and other brands, reported disappointing profit and sales. The company said its business was hurt by the strong dollar. The stock lost $6.61, or 3.6 percent, to $179.43.
Drug developer Sarepta Therapeutics plunged after a Food and Drug Administration panel said its muscular dystrophy drug eteplirsen shouldn’t be approved. The panelists said evidence didn’t show the drug is effective. The stock fell $3.93, or 26.3 percent, to $11.02.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $1.57 a gallon. Heating oil added 4 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $1.33 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents to $2.03 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The price of gold rose $3.20 to $1,243.40 an ounce and silver edged up 10 cents to $17.11 an ounce. Copper lost 1 cent to $2.24 a pound.
Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent, while Germany’s DAX and the CAC 40 in France each lost 0.3 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 0.5 percent.
Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.93 percent from 1.92 percent a day earlier. The dollar rose to 111.41 yen from 111.28 yen. The euro rose to $1.1291 from $1.1261.
The Associated Press