Stocks Post Slight Gains as Investors Work Through Earnings


Stocks had another day of meager gains on Thursday as investors worked through a new batch of mixed company earnings, including results from Facebook, Ford and Whole Foods.

Cautious investors are looking ahead to a meeting of the Bank of Japan on Friday which is expected to result in an announcement of more stimulus for the world’s third-largest economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 15.82 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,456.35. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,170.06 and the Nasdaq composite rose 15.17 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,154.98.

After the market’s run-up this month, investors have mostly been in wait-and-see mode this week. While it’s been a busy week for corporate earnings, and individual stocks have moved a lot, the overall market has been relatively quiet. Market strategists have said that stocks have gotten expensive in recent days, and many investors are waiting for earnings to play out before making any major moves.

Once again, technology companies were front and center. Facebook shares rose $1.66, or 1.3 percent, to $125. The social networking company reported earnings that more than doubled from a year earlier, topping analysts’ views, as well as a 15 percent rise in monthly users. However the shares had been much higher earlier in the session.

NetSuite jumped $16.84, or 18 percent, to $108.41 after computer software giant Oracle announced it was buying the company for $9.3 billion. NetSuite and Oracle both specialize in high-end software, but NetSuite specializes more in cloud computing while Oracle is heavy on mainframe database software. Oracle rose 26 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $41.19 on the news.

Investors got results from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Amazon after the market close Thursday. Amazon rose 2 percent and Alphabet rose 3 percent as both companies’ results beat analysts’ expectations.

Bond prices fell slightly, having jumped a day earlier following a decision by the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates steady. Investors are now looking to the September meeting. Securities that allow investors to bet on which way the Fed will move rates show a 25 percent chance that the Fed will increase rates at that meeting.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note was 1.51 percent, up from 1.50 percent the day before.

In other trading, Whole Foods Market fell $3.03, or 9 percent, to $30.61 after the high-end supermarket chain reported that sales declined in the quarter, as the company faces more competition from other supermarkets who have been increasing their organic produce options.

Ford lost $1.13, or 8 percent, to $12.71 after the company reported a 9 percent drop in profits as sales slowed in the U.S. and struggled in China.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.1073 from $1.1023 and the dollar was unchanged at 105.45 yen.

In the energy market, benchmark U.S. crude fell 78 cents to close at $41.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost $1.40 to close at $43.47 a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.31 a gallon, heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.27 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $2.67 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In the metals markets, gold rose $5.60 to $1,332.30 an ounce, silver rose 20 cents to $20.19 an ounce and copper rose 2 cents to $2.21 a pound.