U.S. Stocks Edge Higher as Investors Wait for Earnings


U.S. stocks edged higher Monday on a quiet day for the market ahead of a busy weak for corporate earnings.

EMC climbed after Dell said it would acquire the data storage company for $67 billion. Energy stocks slumped as the price of oil fell sharply following a report that showed OPEC members are keeping up production even after a big drop in prices over the last year.

Investors will be focusing on corporate earnings this week as they try to assess the impact that slowing global growth is having on company profits. Analysts are projecting that earnings contracted more than 5 percent in the third quarter as overseas demand weakened. JPMorgan Chase, Intel and Johnson & Johnson are among companies that will publish their earnings in coming days.

While the stock market was open Monday, bond trading was closed in observance of the Columbus Day legal holiday.

“The market is trading in a holiday mode,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. “We could see some hefty gyrations as earnings season moves into full gear.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.57 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,017.46. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47.37 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,131.86. The Nasdaq composite climbed 8.17 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,838.64.

Energy stocks dropped the most among the 10 industry sectors of the S&P 500 as the price of crude fell sharply.

Oil dropped as a report showed that OPEC members are keeping up production even after a big drop in prices. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $2.53 to close at $47.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell $2.79 to $49.86 a barrel in London. The slide in crude prices since last year is having a big impact on corporate earnings.

Overall, earnings are forecast to slide by 5.3 percent, compared with the same period last year, but much of that decline is due to a big slump in energy company profits. Earnings in the energy sector are forecast to slide by 66 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ.

Gains were also muted as the stock market was coming off its biggest week of the year.

On Monday, Eli Lilly was among the day’s biggest losers.

The stock dropped after the drugmaker said it was halting development of evacetrapib, a drug that was intended to treat patients with high-risk heart disease. The stock fell $6.70, or 7.1 percent, to $79.44.

Data storage company EMC was a winner.

The stock climbed 51 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $28.37 after Dell said it was acquiring the company in a deal valued at about $67 billion. Since going private in 2013, Dell has been investing in research and development and expanding its software and services business.

In metal trading, gold closed up $8.60 at $1,164.50 an ounce. Silver rose 4.6 cents to $15.86 an ounce and copper was little changed at $2.42 per pound.

The dollar declined to 120.02 yen. The euro rose to $1.1364.

In other futures trading on the NYMEX:

• Wholesale gasoline fell 7.6 cents to close at $1.341 a gallon.

• Heating oil fell 8.9 cents to close at $1.502 a gallon.

• Natural gas rose 3.3 cents to close at $2.535 per 1,000 cubic feet.