By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK — Wall Street finished little changed on Monday as a better-than-expected start to corporate earnings season boosted investor confidence, but gains were curbed by a drop in commodities.
Shares of technology companies were among the bright spots, helping the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite to its third straight record close as investor focus shifts to earnings from Greece and China. The top five boosts to the SP 500 were from the tech sector.
Gold prices plunged to their lowest in more than five years while copper prices hit their lowest in nearly two weeks. Oil prices fell on signs of a growing glut in refined products to pull the SP energy index down 1.3 percent.
The dollar index rose 0.2 percent to $98.04. It had earlier hit a three-month high due to expectations of a Federal Reserve rate hike this year.
“You’ve got an interesting dynamic in the SP 500, so you put Greece in the rear-view mirror and then have the first week of earnings end with a better-than-expected style, and that brings you back up to the top end of the range, or at least close to it,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
“But when you have commodity pressure, if you have energy down a full percentage point on the SP today — that is going to be a tough hurdle to get over.”
Earnings Roll In
So far, 70 percent of companies have reported earnings above analyst expectations, above the 63 percent average beat rate since 1994. Earnings are expected to decline 2.1 percent for the quarter, a modest improvement from the expected 3 percent fall on July 1.
However, 55 percent have topped revenue forecasts, below the 61 percent average beat rate since 2002. U.S. companies were expected to post their worst sales decline in nearly six years in the second quarter, in part due to the strong dollar that reduces the value of U.S. companies’ overseas income.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 13.96 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,100.41, the Standard Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) gained 1.64 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,128.28 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 8.72 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,218.86.
The SP 500 is less than 3 points from its record close of 2,130.82 on May 21.
Morgan Stanley (MS) touched its highest level in seven years after the bank’s profit beat expectations. However, it relinquished gains and closed down 0.4 percent at $40.01.
NYSE declining issues outnumbered advancers 2,086 to 967, for a 2.16-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,935 issues fell and 893 advanced for a 2.17-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The SP 500 posted 43 new 52-week highs and 31 lows; the Nasdaq composite 121 new highs and 139 lows.
Volume was muted, with about 5.84 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.56 billion average so far this month, according to BATS Global Markets.
What to watch Tuesday:
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
- Apple (AAPL)
- Baker Hughes (BHI)
- Bank of New York Mellon (BK)
- Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG)
- Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB)
- GoPro (GPRO)
- Harley-Davidson (HOG)
- Lockheed Martin (LMT)
- ManpowerGroup (MAN)
- Microsoft (MSFT)
- Novartis AG (NVS)
- Packaging Corporation of America (PKG)
- TD Ameritrade (AMTD)
- The Travelers Cos. (TRV)
- United Technologies (UTX)
- Verizon Communications (VZ)
- Yahoo (YHOO)