Belfast Telegraph

US stock indexes mixed ahead of busy earnings week

US stocks mostly fell on Monday, and broad-market indexes inched modestly backward at the start of a busy week of corporate earnings reports and a meeting of the Federal Reserve.

Technology stocks, though, added to their big gains for the year and helped push the Nasdaq composite to another record.

The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 2.63 points, or 0.1%, to 2,469.91 after nine of the 11 sectors that make up the index logged losses.

It marks the first three-day losing streak for the index in a month, though it is still within a fraction of a percent of its record.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 66.90 points, or 0.3%, to 21,513.17.

The Nasdaq composite rose 23.05 points, or 0.4%, to 6,410.81.

The Nasdaq is up 19.1% this year, nearly double the rise for broader-market indexes as investors have massed into technology stocks in their search for strong growth as the global economy remains sluggish.

Amazon.com and several other big-name tech companies are set to release their second-quarter results in coming days, part of a busy week where more than a third of S&P 500 companies are due to report.

Expectations are high - analysts forecast tech stocks in the S&P 500 will report 16% growth in earnings per share, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

That is up from a forecast of 10.9% growth a month ago, and companies will need to follow through on the expectations to justify the big moves their stock prices have already made.

"The group did have a strong start to the year, and there are some questions about how long tech can continue to rally," said Ann Miletti, senior portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Asset Management.

"Overall, what we're believing to be true is that second-quarter results are going to come in, in general, better than expected. But the second-half outlook is the most important thing, and we'll see."

The International Monetary Fund on Monday held its forecast for global economic growth this year steady at 3.5%, but that masks some movements underneath.

It raised its forecast for economic growth in Europe, Japan and China. But it also cut its outlook for the United States on the assumption that politicians in Washington will not be as helpful for growth as earlier expected.

The Federal Reserve's policy-making committee begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday, following its decision last month to raise short-term interest rates for the third time since December.

The central bank also announced plans to start gradually paring its bond holdings later this year, a move that could cause rates to rise.

Most investors expect the Fed to hold rates steady at this week's meeting and possibly raise them one more time this year.

Investors in recent weeks have questioned whether the European Central Bank will begin to tap the brakes on its own stimulus for the economy.

Monday's steepest loss in the S&P 500 came from Hasbro, which sank 10.95 dollars, or 9.4%, to 105 dollars despite reporting stronger-than-expected earnings for the latest quarter.

The stock had already been up nearly 50% for the year before the earnings release, and analysts said some investors may have been nervous after Hasbro cited some softness in its Brazil and UK markets.

Shares were also weak across the sporting goods retail industry after Hibbett Sports warned that its sales have been under even more pressure than analysts expected for the three months through to July.

Retailers of all types have been battling against increased competition from online rivals, some better than others.

Hibbett fell 6.60 dollars, or 33.5%, to 13.10 dollars. Foot Locker lost 2.16 dollars, or 4.6%, to 45.05 dollars, and Dick's Sporting Goods dropped 2.04 dollars, or 5.5%, to 35.12 dollars.

On the opposite end was WebMD Health, which soared 10.91 dollars, or 19.8%, to 66.10 dollars after a portfolio company of investment firm KKR said it will buy the health information website for 66.50 dollars per share in cash.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note ticked up to 2.25 % from 2.24 % late Friday, and the two-year yield rose to 1.36 % from 1.34 % .

AP

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