US stock indexes close mostly higher; oil recovers
By Alex Veiga
U.S. stock indexes closed mostly higher Monday, snapping a four-day losing streak for the Dow Jones industrial average on a day of largely listless trading.
Utilities led the gainers as falling bond yields made high-dividend companies more attractive to income-seeking investors. Phone companies and real estate investment trusts, which also tend to offer high yields, notched gains. Financial stocks also did well. Technology companies declined the most, giving up gains from an early rally.
“It’s a pretty low volatility day and a continuation of the trend we saw last week, which is equity markets largely treading water,” said Bill Northey, chief investment officer at the private client group at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.77 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,439.07. The Dow gained 14.79 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,409.55. The Nasdaq composite slid 18.10 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,247.15. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks picked up 1.86 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,416.64.
The major stock indexes were headed slightly higher in early trading, but spent much of the day wavering between small gains and losses.
Early on, investors got some discouraging news on the economy from the Commerce Department, which reported that orders for durable goods, which are items meant to last at least three years, slid 1.1 percent in May. That was the second straight decline and a bigger drop than analysts were expecting.
That helped pull down U.S. bond yields, which have already been weighed down by increased demand from overseas bond investors seeking better yields and persistently low inflation in the U.S. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was down to 2.12 percent earlier Monday before bouncing back to 2.14 percent by late afternoon.
The trend made high-dividend stocks favorite buys for many investors seeking income, including utilities such as FirstEnergy and Exelon.
FirstEnergy climbed $1.18, or 4.1 percent, to $30.09, while Exelon gained 71 cents, or 1.9 percent to $37.21.
Several real estate investment trusts also climbed.
Kimco Realty rose 48 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $18.47. CBRE Group picked up $1.13, or 3.2 percent, to $36.48.
Store Capital jumped 11.3 percent on news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is buying a 9.8 percent stake in the real estate investment trust. The stock gained $2.34 to $23.11.
Traders also bid up shares in companies undergoing executive suite changes.
Pandora Media rose 2.2 percent following reports that the streaming music service’s founder and CEO Tim Westergren is stepping down. The stock picked up 18 cents to $8.46.
Supervalu gained 3.1 percent after the grocery store operator said Bruce Besanko would step down as chief financial officer. The stock climbed 9 cents to $3.03.
Technology sector companies were down the most, reversing course after an early rally. Qorvo slid $3.53, or 5.1 percent, to $66.41. Skyworks Solutions fell $3.04, or 2.9 percent, to $101.32.
Arconic was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500 index. The stock slumped 6 percent after a published report asserted that the company knowingly supplied flammable panels for London’s Grenfell Tower, where a fire June 14 left 79 people dead or missing. Arconic slid $1.53 to $24.01.
Crude oil prices recovered after wavering in early trading. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 37 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $43.38 a barrel in New York. Brent, the international standard, gained 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, to close at $45.83 a barrel in London. Oil prices last week hit their lowest point since August and about 15 percent below where they were a year ago on expectations supplies exceed demand.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.44 per gallon. Heating oil also added a penny to $1.38 per gallon. Natural gas gained 10 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $3.02 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold fell $10 to settle at $1,246.40 ounce. Silver slid 8 cents to $16.57 per ounce, and copper was little changed at $2.63 per pound.
The dollar rose to 111.89 yen from 111.26 yen late Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1181 from $1.1199.
Major indexes moved higher in Europe after a strong German economic survey reinforced hopes that the region’s recovery is gaining momentum. Germany’s DAX rose 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC-40 gained 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 in London added 0.3 percent.
In Asia, several market indexes notched gains. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.7 percent, while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent. Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.4 percent. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.1 percent. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Taiwan and Bangkok also gained.