Stocks edge higher on Monday as energy stocks rebound
NEW YORK (AP) -- Investors remained cautious at the start of a big week for company earnings on Wall Street.
About a third of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, including Exxon Mobil and Apple, are reporting earnings this week. Analysts currently expect earnings to rise by 2 percent in the first quarter, down from the 7.7 percent increase in the fourth quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ.
While the majority of companies that have reported earnings so far have beaten investors’ expectations, concerns remain about the outlook for revenues for the rest of the year. Earnings forecast may need to be revised lower if the global economy doesn’t improve.
"Most of the companies seem to be coming in ahead of earnings expectations, but the thing that’s still problematic is the revenue line," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management. "To me it’s just symptomatic of the global economy continuing to sputter along."
On Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average edged higher as energy stocks got a lift from recovering oil prices and investors focused on results from a key industry player.
The energy industry climbed 1 percent, making it the biggest gainer in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Oil rose 75 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $88.76 a barrel Monday. A week ago, crude fell below $90 a barrel for the first time this year after reports that China’s economic growth slowed.
Oil services company Halliburton also gained after its loss wasn’t as bad as analysts had forecast. Halliburton rose $1.75 to $38.96 after it said that it lost $18 million in the first quarter, pulled down by $637 million in charges related to its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Netflix surged 23 percent to $214.19 in after-hours trading after the company reported that it added 2 million U.S. subscribers to its video streaming service during the first three months of the year. Netflix took a gamble by adding original programming to its service including the critically acclaimed series "House of Cards" in February.
The Dow rose 19.66 points, or 0.1 percent, to 14,567.17. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed up 7.25 points, or 0.5 percent, higher at 1,562.50.
The stock market was coming off its biggest weekly drop since November. Last week the S&P 500 and the Dow each lost 2.1 percent, paring their advances after a strong start to the year.
The news that economic growth had slowed in China set off a plunge in commodity prices last Monday, leading the stock market to its worst day of the year. Gold dropped below $1,400 an ounce for the first time in two years.
Caterpillar rose $2.28, or 2.8 percent, to $82.71. The heavy equipment maker initially fell Monday after lowering its forecasts for full-year sales and profits because its mining business is slowing. The company also said it plans to resume buying back its own stock for the first since 2008 with a buyback of $1 billion.
Traders appear more likely to punish companies that miss expectations, rather than reward companies that beat them, Goldman Sachs said. According to the investment bank’s research, while 63 percent of stocks that beat analysts’ forecasts last week performed better than the overall market the next day, 73 percent of those that missed targets performed worse.
"If you look at this earnings season in general, it’s been disappointing," said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. "The outlook and the revenues are the big concern."
In other trading, the Nasdaq composite gained the most of the three major indexes, rising 27.50 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,233.55. Apple, which reports its earnings after the market close on Tuesday, rose 2.1 percent, or $8.14, to $398.67. Apple is the biggest stock in the Nasdaq index with a 7.6 percent weighting.
In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.70 percent from 1.71 percent late Friday as traders shifted money into lower-risk assets.
Among other stocks making big moves:
General Electric fell 40 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $21.35 after JPMorgan cut its rating on the company to "neutral" from "overweight." The company’s stock fell Friday following pessimistic comments from its CEO on the outlook for Europe and the company’s core industrial operations.
Hasbro, the maker of Transformers and My Little Pony, rose $1.17, or 3.4 percent, to $46.55 even after it said that its first-quarter loss widened after heavy restructuring charges and foreign exchange rates flattened its international sales. The company’s performance was still better than Wall Street had been expecting.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.