U.S. stock indexes flittered up and down Thursday, as a slump in energy stocks partly offset advances made by Under Armour, PayPal and other companies reporting stronger-than-expected profits.
It’s the second straight day where indexes have made modest, meandering moves, following two big gains at the start of the week.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,389, as of 1:51 p.m. Eastern time. It had climbed to within a whisper of its March 1 record closing level of 2,395.96 in recent days, but momentum faded late Wednesday following the White House’s highly anticipated unveiling of its tax plan, which contained only broad outlines.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,986. The Nasdaq composite rose 22 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,047; and is on pace to close at a record for the third time in four days.
ENERGY SLUMP: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 80 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $48.82 per barrel; while Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 86 cents to $51.55 per barrel.
That dragged energy stocks in the S&P 500 down by 1.5 percent, double the loss of any of the other 10 sectors that make up the index. Noble Energy lost $1.35, or 4 percent, to $32.81; and offshore-drilling contractor Transocean fell 47 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $10.98
EARNINGS SURPRISES: Under Armour surged to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after reporting results for the first quarter that were better than analysts’ expectations. A sharp rise in sales abroad, particularly in Asia, helped push revenue to $1.12 billion from $1.05 billion in last year’s first quarter. The company’s A-class shares rose $1.84, or 9.3 percent, to $21.55.
Companies across industries have been reporting encouraging results for the start of 2017, and analysts expect this to be the strongest quarter of growth in years.
The growing parade of encouraging profit reports has helped lift stocks and temper concerns, at least a bit, that the market had grown too expensive. The S&P 500 jumped more than 0.6 percent on Monday and again on Tuesday following better-than-expected profit reports, along with growing expectations that the European Union will remain intact following the first round of France’s presidential elections.
RING IT UP: PayPal Holdings jumped $3.07, or 6.9 percent, to $47.48 after reporting stronger revenue and earnings than Wall Street had forecast.
TUNED IN: Comcast’s A-class shares rose $1.05, or 2.7 percent, to $39.84 after rising revenue at theme parks it acquired as part of its NBC Universal purchase helped it to report stronger first-quarter results than expected.
ON DESCENT: American Airlines slumped even though it reported first-quarter results that topped analysts’ expectations. Investors focused instead on the pay raises it plans to give pilots and flight attendants, which could crimp future profits.
The stock fell $2.36, or 5.1 percent, to $44.04.
MARKETS ABROAD: European markets sank after the European Central Bank left its monetary policy unchanged. The French CAC 40 fell 0.3 percent, the German DAX slipped 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.7 percent.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.2 percent, South Korea’s Kospi added 0.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent.
COMMODITIES: The price of gold rose $1.70 to settle at $1,265.90 an ounce, silver slipped 10 cents to $17.27 per ounce and copper fell a penny to $2.58 per pound.
Natural gas slipped 3 cents to $3.24 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil fell 4 cents to $1.50 per gallon and wholesale gasoline dropped 5 cents to $1.55 per gallon.
CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.0877 from $1.0939 late Wednesday while the dollar slipped to 111.26 Japanese yen from 111.38 yen. The British pound rose to $1.2903 from $1.2843.
YIELDS: Treasury yields ticked lower as government bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield edged down to 2.29 percent from 2.30 percent late Wednesday. The two-year Treasury yield two-year fell to 1.25 percent from 1.27 percent, while the 30-year Treasury yield held steady at 2.96 percent.