Companies from Apple to Xerox are reporting earnings this week. About one-third the way through the quarterly earnings season, the results so far have been “nothing spectacular,” says investment strategist Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors.
The Federal Reserve will meet Tuesday and Wednesday, and while the central bank has said it wants to raise interest rates soon, few investors expect that to happen this year because the global economy remains weak. The Fed left interest rates untouched in September, which helped set off a rally that pulled stocks out of the red for 2015 last week.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped 3.97 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,071.18. The S&P 500 remains positive for the year. The Dow Jones industrial average, which is still negative for the year, fell 23.65 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,623.05. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.84 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 5,034.70.
Not all the earnings news was bad. LendingTree soared $22.98, or 23.5 percent, to $120.98 after the online mortgage broker reported better-than-expected results for the third quarter. LendingTree also raised its revenue estimate for the year and gave an optimistic forecast for 2016. Medical laboratory operator Laboratory Corporation of America rose $5.79, or 5.2 percent, to $117.74 after its third-quarter results topped estimates.
Companies continued to combine. Intercontinental Exchange, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange and other stock markets, said it will buy the privately held market data company Interactive Data for $5.2 billion. Duke Energy, the biggest electric company in the U.S., said it will buy Piedmont Natural Gas for about $4.9 billion. Piedmont surged $15.60, or 37 percent, to $57.82.
Russ Koesterich, global chief investment strategist for BlackRock, says he expects the current wave of company deals to continue as global economic growth remains gradual and borrowing costs remain low. The boost that the stock market gets from those deals, however, might not be as long-lasting, he said. Deals have given the market “a bit of a sugar high,” Koesterich said, driving stocks higher despite disappointing company results.
In economic news, the government reported an unexpected drop in new home sales. Sales fell to their slowest pace in 10 months in September, hit by higher home prices and softer economic growth. That helped send homebuilder shares lower. KB Home fell 14 cents, or 1 percent, to $13.83.
U.S. crude oil lost 62 cents, or 1.4 percent, to close at $43.98 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 45 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $47.54 a barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline fell 1.6 cents to close at $1.288 a gallon, heating oil fell 2.9 cents to close at $1.426 a gallon and natural gas sank 22 cents to close at $2.062 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The price of gold rose $3.40 to $1,166.20 an ounce. Silver rose eight cents to $15.91 an ounce and copper edged up a penny to $2.36 a pound.
U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.06 percent from 2.09 percent late Friday. The dollar declined to 121.02 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1050.