US stock indexes mostly lower in afternoon trading; oil down

FAN Editor

Industrial companies led U.S. stocks mostly lower in late-afternoon trading Tuesday as investors sized up the latest company earnings news. Packaged food and beverage companies were among the big laggards. Health care companies posted some of the biggest gains following news of a plan backed by the White House that would extend federal payments to health insurers.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down a fraction of a point at 2,557 as of 3 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 28 points, or 0.1 percent, to 22,984, lifted by a big gain in UnitedHealth. The average briefly rose above 23,000 points for the first time. The Nasdaq composite slid 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,620. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,498. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq each posted record highs on Monday.

THE QUOTE: “Expectations of ongoing earnings growth are reasonably strong, but there may be a bit of a wait-and-see at this point in time given the run in the equity markets,” said Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede.

EARNINGS SEASON: Fifty companies are scheduled to report quarterly results this week, the first full week of the third-quarter earnings season. S&P 500 companies are expected to deliver 3.3 percent earnings growth in the third quarter, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Among the companies due to report earnings this week are American Express, Verizon Communications and General Electric.

LEGISLATIVE BAND-AID: Stocks of health insurers, hospitals and other health care companies rose as two leading lawmakers reached a deal on a plan that would extend federal payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump had blocked last week. Trump said Tuesday that the White House has been involved in what he called a “short-term deal.” Biogen $10.09, or 3 percent, to $345.77, while Anthem added $4.62, or 2.5 percent, to $188.38.

FEELING FIT: UnitedHealth Group, the country’s biggest health insurer, rose 6.1 percent after reporting earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. The stock gained $11.88 to $205.08. Johnson & Johnson added 3.3 percent after reporting a strong quarter of its own. Its shares picked up $4.54 to $140.65.

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BANK ON IT: Morgan Stanley rose 0.3 percent after the investment bank served up quarterly results that beat Wall Street’s expectations. The stock gained 14 cents to $49.08. Goldman Sachs also delivered earnings that exceeded financial analysts’ expectations, but its trading desks, which are weighted toward bonds, currencies and commodities, struggled this quarter, as did those at its competitors JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. Goldman’s shares fell $7.08, or 2.9 percent, to $235.33.

AERIAL TUSSLE: Boeing declined after rival aircraft maker Airbus took a majority stake in Bombardier’s C-series passenger jets. Boeing was down $1.30, or 0.5 percent, to $258.45.

BINGE SPENDER: Netflix slid 1.6 percent after the streaming video company reported that it gained subscribers in its latest quarter, but also said its debt and programming costs continue to rise. Its shares fell $3.26 to $199.42.

GETTING TOGETHER: Impax Laboratories slumped 4.6 percent after the generic drug company said it will combine with competitor Amneal Holdings, which will own 75 percent of the combined company. Impax lost 93 cents to $19.02.

ECONOMIC REPORTS: The Federal Reserve said U.S. industrial production rose a solid 0.3 percent last month, as manufacturing of automobiles, home electronics and appliances increased. The gains were limited due to the lingering damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Separately, a gauge of homebuilders’ confidence rose more than expected this month as builders looked past a recent slowdown in new home sales and the risk of rising labor and materials costs in the wake of the two hurricanes.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.30 percent.

ENERGY: Oil prices closed slightly higher, rebounding after an early slide. Benchmark U.S. crude gained a penny to settle at $51.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 6 cents to close at $57.88 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose a penny to $1.63 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $1.81 a gallon. Natural gas added 2 cents to $2.96 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold fell $16.80, or 1.3 percent, to $1,286.20 an ounce. Silver slid 33 cents to $17.04 an ounce. Copper lost 4 cents to $3.20 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 112.18 yen from 112.22 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1770 from $1.1792. The pound fell to $1.3189 from $1.3243 after inflation figures cemented expectations of a rate increase soon but Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned about the economic impact of Brexit.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was essentially flat. London’s FTSE 100 dipped 0.1 percent. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was unchanged ahead of a twice-a-decade congress Wednesday held by China’s ruling Communist Party. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.4 percent, while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent. Seoul’s Kospi added 0.2 percent.

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