Belfast Telegraph

US stock indexes ease back from record highs

US stocks closed slightly lower on Monday, capping a mostly quiet day of trading that eased the market back from record highs set late last week.

Utilities and materials companies posted some of the biggest losses, while energy stocks led the gainers, even as crude oil prices declined.

Technology companies and banks also bucked the downward trend. Google parent Alphabet closed above 1,000 dollars a share for the first time.

The dip snapped a two-day winning streak for stocks, which have been mostly pushing higher this year. The major stock market indexes hit new highs last Thursday and Friday.

"Equities are digesting the gains from last week," said Michael Baele, senior portfolio manager at US Bank Private Wealth Management.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped 2.97 points, or 0.1%, to 2,436.10, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.25 points, or 0.1%, to 21,184.04, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 10.11 points, or 0.2%, to 6,295.68.

Small company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 slid 8.94 points, or 0.6%, to 1,396.45. Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Encouraging economic data, low interest rates, strong consumer confidence and solid company earnings have helped keep investors in a buying mood this year, driving US stocks higher.

"All these positives are holding the market up here and are likely to help stocks grind higher for the rest of the year," Mr Baele said.

Even so, trading got off to a subdued start and largely remained that way, reflecting a dearth of new major economic data and relatively few company earnings releases.

Traders had their eye on geopolitical developments, including the terror attacks in London over the weekend and the decision by a Saudi-led coalition to withdraw diplomatic staff from Qatar over its support for Islamist groups and its relations with Iran.

Benchmark US crude slid 26 cents, or 0.5%, to close at 47.40 dollars a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 48 cents, or 1%, to close at 49.47 dollars a barrel in London.

Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield inched up to 2.18% from 2.19% late on Friday, when it sank to its lowest level of the year.

Investors bid up shares of some technology companies, giving the sector a slight gain. Google's stock added 7.76 dollars, or 0.8%, to 1,003.88 dollars.

Herbalife was among the day's big movers. The seller of supplements and weight-loss products slid 6.7% after it lowered its second-quarter revenue and volume projections. The company noted that a switch to new sales tactics is affecting its business in the US, and sales in Mexico were weak. The stock lost 4.93 dollars to 68.99 dollars.

Forestar Group surged 12.7% after homebuilder DR Horton offered to buy a 75% stake in the real estate and natural resources developer for 16.25 dollars a share. Forestar rose 1.80 dollars to 16 dollars. DR Horton shed 50 cents, or 1.5%, to 33.29 dollars.

Loxo Oncology vaulted 43% after the drug developer received encouraging results from an experimental drug that targets a rare genetic tumour abnormality. Loxo shares jumped 21.14 dollars to 70.12 dollars.

Several of the major overseas stock indexes closed lower.

Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.3% as investors focused on the fallout from Saturday's attack in London, which killed seven people. The attack came ahead of Thursday's General Election.

France's Cac 40 fell 0.7% and the German stock exchange was closed for a holiday.

Qatar's main stock index tumbled 7.3% after Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 ended flat, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2%.

In other energy trading, wholesale petrol lost 4 cents, or 2.5%, to 1.54 dollars per gallon, heating oil dipped 3 cents to 1.46 dollars per gallon, and natural gas dipped 2 cents to 2.98 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.

Among metals, gold rose 2.50 dollars to 1,282.70 dollars per ounce, silver added 6 cents to 17.58 dollars per ounce, while copper lost 2 cents to 2.56 dollars per pound.

In currency trading, the euro fell to 1.1255 dollars from 1.1276 dollars on Friday. The dollar weakened to 110.49 from 110.50 yen.