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VOL. 42 | NO. 29 | Friday, July 20, 2018

US stock indexes end unevenly after day of listless trading

The Associated Press

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U.S. stock indexes capped a day of listless trading with a mixed finish Monday, as gains by banks and technology companies were offset by losses in other sectors.

Bond yields rose, pointing to a pickup in interest rates on consumer loans, which helped drive bank shares higher. Technology stocks also posted solid gains, adding to the sector's market-leading showing this year. Alphabet, Google's parent company, surged in aftermarket trading after it reported its latest quarterly results.

Those gains were overshadowed by losses in industrial stocks, consumer goods companies and energy, among other sectors. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Stocks mostly drifted in a narrow range for much of the day as investors sized up the latest batch of corporate quarterly results at the start of the busiest week in the reporting season.

"Earnings are coming in better than expected, but you're not getting much of a reaction from the marketplace," said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager of Globalt Investments. "People are biding their time."

The S&P 500 index rose 5.15 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,806.98. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 13.83 points, or 0.1 percent, to 25,044.29. The Nasdaq gained 21.67 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,841.87. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1.61 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,698.41.

The indexes are on pace to finish the month with gains. The S&P 500, the market's benchmark index, is on a three-week winning streak.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.96 percent from 2.89 percent late Friday. The increase in bond yields helped lift bank shares. Interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans tend to move in tandem with bond yields. Rising rates translate into bigger profits for banks. Wells Fargo added 2.8 percent to $58.

A third of the companies in the S&P 500 are set to report second-quarter earnings this week. So far, corporate earnings have been generally better than expected, reinforcing the underlying perception in financial markets that the U.S. economy is performing strongly and that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month.

"The thing that's been actually driving the earnings beats right now is just the fundamental performance of the companies," said Jason Pride, chief investment officer Glenmede's Private Wealth business. "It's a good business environment."

Out of the roughly 20 percent of companies in the S&P 500 that have reported quarterly results so far, 83 percent have turned in earnings that beat Wall Street's expectations, Pride said, noting that company earnings growth so far is running 21 percent higher than in the same quarter last year.

Even so, investors have been expecting companies to outdo analysts' expectations, which is one reason not all stocks are seeing a big bump from positive earnings growth.

"Companies that are coming in a penny or two ahead of expectations, they're basically not getting much of a reward in their stock," said Pride. "That indicates the market is expecting these sorts of beats against earnings."

Among the companies due to report results later this week: Boeing, Facebook, Amazon.com and McDonald's.

Investors bid up shares in Hasbro Monday after the toy maker's latest quarterly earnings topped Wall Street's forecasts. The company was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, vaulting 12.9 percent to $106.04. Rival Mattel also got a boost, climbing 3.9 percent to $16.59.

Traders hammered Illinois Tool Works after the manufacturer of industrial products and equipment forecast earnings that were well below what analysts were expecting. The company led a sell-off in industrial sector stocks, tumbling 7.2 percent to $136.26.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles slid 1.8 percent to $18.98 on news that CEO Sergio Marchionne has been replaced unexpectedly due to complications from shoulder surgery last month. The FCA board on Saturday named long-time Jeep executive Mike Manley as CEO, accelerating a transition that was planned for early next year. Boards also named replacements for Marchionne as Ferrari CEO and CNH Industrial chairman. Ferrari fell 2.5 percent to $136.49, while CNH Industrial gave up 1.6 percent to $10.11.

Tesla skidded 3.3 percent to $303.20 after The Wall Street Journal reported that the electric car maker has asked some of its suppliers to refund a portion of what the company has already spent to help it become profitable. The plea raised questions about Tesla's cash position, which has dwindled following some production issues.

Papa John's sank 9.7 percent to $46.56 after the pizza delivery company adopted a shareholder rights plan to keep founder and ousted chairman John Schnatter from buying a majority stake. The company is struggling to distance itself from Schnatter, who resigned this month after his use of a racial slur during a media training session was revealed. Schnatter has since said his resignation was a "mistake" and criticized the company's handling of the incident.

Oil prices fell, erasing gains from earlier in the day. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 37 cents to settle at $67.89 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped a penny to close at $73.06.

Halliburton was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding 8.1 percent to $41.54 after management said that some customers are pulling back on production because of bottlenecks in getting the oil and gas they're producing to market.

The dollar fell to 111.48 yen from 111.52 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1689 from $1.1726.

Gold declined $5.50 to $1,225.60 an ounce. Silver lost 12 cents to $15.43 an ounce. Copper dipped a penny to $2.75 a pound.

In other energy futures trading, heating oil rose 1 cent to $2.12 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $2.09 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $2.72 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Europe, Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent while the CAC 40 in France slid 0.4 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares declined 0.3 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.9 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to 28,256.12.

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