NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. stocks couldn’t hang on to an early gain and finished mostly lower Monday as technology companies slipped. Bond prices continue to fall and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note drew closer to 3 percent, a milestone it hasn’t reached since January 2014.
Investors once again focused on corporate deals Monday as utility company Vectren agreed to be bought by CenterPoint Energy for $6 billion, while the CEO of Sears called for the company to sell more assets and health care products company Henry Schein said it will split off its animal health unit. Aluminum producers tumbled after the Treasury Department moved to ease sanctions against Russian aluminum company Rusal.
Stocks have faded over the last few days as bond yields continued to climb. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note continued to trade at four-year highs, rising to 2.98 percent from 2.96 percent. Bond yields have climbed this year as investors are starting to see signs that inflation is picking up and the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates. The 10-year yield stood at 2.43 percent at the end of 2017.
The S&P 500 index rose 0.15 points to 2,670.29. It rose as much as 12 points before midday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 14.25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,448.69. The Nasdaq composite gave up 17.52 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,128.60. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks declined 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,562.12.
Aluminum companies fell sharply after the Treasury Department extended a deadline for U.S. companies to stop doing business with Rusal. The department also said it could change its stance on sanctions against the Russian aluminum company if billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska gives up control. Earlier this month the U.S. imposed sanctions that bar citizens from doing business with numerous Russian businessmen, including Deripaska, as well as several Russian officials and companies. That followed U.S. frustration with Russian policy in Syria and Ukraine, as well as alleged election interference.
Alcoa plunged 13.5 percent to $51.90 and Century Aluminum gave up 53 percent to $16.72. The stocks had rallied after the sanctions were announced.
Walmart fell 1 percent after Bloomberg reported that the retailer might spend $12 billion to buy the majority of Indian e-commerce company FlipKart.
Health care products company Henry Schein jumped after it said it will spin off its animal health business. That division will combine with Vets FirstChoice as a new publicly traded company, and Henry Schein expects to get at least $1 billion in cash from the tax-free move. The stock gained 6.8 percent to $73.79.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil reversed an early loss and rose 0.4 percent to $68.64 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 0.9 percent to $74.71 per barrel in London. That helped energy companies finish higher. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 percent to $2.12 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.8 percent to $2.14 a gallon. Natural gas stayed at $2.74 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold and silver prices tumbled. Gold fell 1.1 percent to $1,324 an ounce and silver fell 3.4 percent to $16.59 an ounce. Copper lost 0.8 percent to $3.11 a pound.
The dollar rose to 108.65 yen from 107.60 yen. The euro fell to $1.2205 from $1.2283.