Belfast Telegraph

Mixed day for US stocks as retailers rise and health care dips

US stocks hardly budged on Monday as smaller firms and retailers rose while health care companies and banks declined.

Chemical and mining companies and p recious metals rose as the dollar, already at its lowest levels in almost a year, weakened further.

Bond yields slipped, sending banks lower and high-dividend stocks like utilities and household goods companies higher.

With indexes at or near record highs and another round of corporate earnings reports just beginning, investors did not make many big moves and stocks wobbled between small gains and losses all day.

Investors expect another solid round of corporate earnings, and they think the Federal Reserve will be more cautious about raising interest rates because of some weak economic data, including Friday's report on retail sales.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.13 points to 2,459.14, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 8.02 points to 21,629.72, the Nasdaq composite gained 1.97 points to 6,314.43, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 2.79 points, or 0.2 % , to 1,431.60.

The S&P 500, Dow and Russell 2000 all closed at record highs on Friday. The Nasdaq has rallied almost 4% in the last seven days, and has recovered almost all the losses it sustained when technology companies went into a slump in early June.

The dollar has been declining this year as investors have concluded the federal government is not close to any kind of infrastructure spending package, which would strengthen the US economy.

Meanwhile economies in Europe are doing better and interest rates are rising, which makes European currencies stronger.

The dollar rose to 112.66 yen from 112.56 yen. The euro rose to 1.1480 dollars from 1.1467. The ICE US Dollar Index is at its lowest level since early September.

Gold rose 6.20 dollars to 1,233.70 dollars an ounce, silver gained 17 cents, or 1%, to 16.10 dollars an ounce, and copper rose 3 cents, or 1.2%, to 2.72 dollars a pound.

Investment firm BlackRock dipped after it reported weaker-than-expected results in the second quarter. The company's earnings and revenue fell short of Wall Street forecasts, and its stock declined 13.71 dollars, or 3.1%, to 425.63 dollars.

After the end of regular trading, Netflix said it picked up 5.2 million subscribers in the second quarter. That was its biggest gain ever in what is usually a slow period, and the streaming video company's stock jumped 11% after market.

Bond prices rose - the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.31% from 2.33%.

FedEx said shipping volumes for its TNT Express business are down and customers are still experiencing delays after the business was hit by a cyberattack in late June.

FedEx said it does not know when services will back up to speed and its annual results will take a hit because of the dip in shipments and the cost of responding to the attack. The company's stock fell 3.58 dollars, or 1.6%, to 215.48 dollars.

Meal kit company Blue Apron tumbled after the Sunday Times reported that Amazon is getting ready to launch its own meal-prep business.

Blue Apron filed to go public about two weeks before Amazon agreed to buy the Whole Foods grocery chain. The company went public on June 29 with an IPO that priced at 10 dollars a share, less than the company initially expected, and its stock has fallen further since then.

On Monday it dropped 77 cents, or 10.5%, to 6.59 dollars while Amazon added 8.23 dollars to 1,010.04.

A number of companies hammered out deals over the weekend. Diamond producer Dominion Diamond agreed to be bought by Washington Cos for 14.25 dollars a share, or about 1.2 billion dollars. The company's stock gained 59 cents, or 4.4%, to 14.07 dollars.

Church & Dwight, the consumer products maker behind Arm & Hammer baking soda and other brands, said it will buy showerhead and water-powered toothbrush maker Water Pik for a billion dollars. Church & Dwight stock added 71 cents, or 1.3%, to 53.33 dollars.

Benchmark US crude lost 52 cents, or 1.1%, to 46.02 dollars a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 49 cents, or 1%, to 48.42 dollars a barrel in London.

Wholesale petrol stayed at 1.56 dollars a gallon, heating oil lost 2 cents to 1.50 dollars a gallon, and natural gas added 4 cents to 3.02 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.