Modest gains for technology companies have helped U.S. stocks recover almost all of an early loss Thursday. Major indexes are little changed, as banks fall along with interest rates and weak first-quarter results hit several health care companies. Tesla is skidding after the electric-car maker posted another big loss, and Wall Street reacted negatively to comments by CEO Elon Musk.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was unchanged at 2,636 as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61 points, or 0.3 percent, to 23,986, mostly thanks to a gain for Boeing. In the morning it lost as much as 393 points.
The Nasdaq composite added 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,111, as Microsoft and Cisco Systems led technology companies to small gains. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,551.
Stocks slumped late Wednesday after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged. The Fed expects to keep raising interest rates to keep inflation under control; and investors appeared to get more concerned about the possibility that rising rates will slow the economy down.
FINANCIALS FLATTENED: American International Group dropped 5.8 percent to $51.65 after its first-quarter profit fell short of analysts’ estimates.
Meanwhile, banks fell in tandem with interest rates as bond prices climbed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.94 percent from 2.97 percent. Lower-bond yields mean banks can’t make as much money from lending.
HEALTH STOCKS QUEASY: Cardinal Health, which distributes prescription drugs, also had a smaller-than-expected profit and slashed its forecast for the rest of the year. Cardinal said that its Cordis cardiovascular products business ran into supply chain problems and also paid a higher expected tax rate. The stock gave up 18.9 percent to $52.44.
Medical-device maker Hologic dropped 8.5 percent to $36.27, after it wrote down the value of its Cynosure business by about $732 million. It bought Cynosure for $1.57 billion a year ago. Health care information technology company Cerner reported weak revenue and gave a disappointing quarterly forecast. It fell 5.3 percent to $55.89.
NOT EARNING IT: About three-fourths of S&P 500 companies have reported results, according to CFRA Research, and their profits and revenues are consistently blown past Wall Street’s expectations. But the market isn’t acting like it: Since April 12, the day before big banks started reporting their results, the S&P 500 is down 1.2 percent.
“Investors looked for any and all reasons to sell the results,” wrote Lindsey Bell, investment strategist for CFRA Research. In a note to clients, Bell said that Caterpillar “crushed all hopes” that stocks would rise following earnings. The construction equipment maker said it doesn’t expect to top its first-quarter profit for the rest of the year.
TRADE TALKS: Tensions between the U.S. and China have also taken investors’ attention away from earnings. Chinese and U.S. officials met face-to-face in Beijing Thursday in an attempt to resolve a dispute over technology that has taken the world’s two largest economies the closest they’ve ever come to a trade war. Analysts felt that the two sides aren’t likely to have a big breakthrough in the two-day meeting.
HITTING THE SKIDS: Tesla tumbled 6.1 percent to $282.80 after the electric-car maker took another big loss, as it struggles to produce more of its lower-cost Model 3 sedan. Some experts are wondering if Tesla will be able to pay all of its bills because of the repeated losses.
Musk appeared to make matters worse on the company’s conference call, as he dismissed questions about the company’s cash-needs as “boring, boneheaded” and “not cool.” After being asked about reservations for the Model 3, he said the subject matters was “killing me.” JPMorgan Chase analyst Ryan Brinkman said the call was “truly bizarre.”
EAT UP: Kraft Heinz posted a bigger profit than analysts expected despite weaker sales, and the Oscar Mayer maker’s stock gained 2.3 percent to $55.42. Cereal and Pop Tart maker Kellogg rose 2.2 percent to $57.87 after its profit and sales topped analyst projections.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude recovered from an early loss, and rose 0.7 percent to $68.43 barrel in New York. That was its highest price since December 2014. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 0.4 percent to $73.62 a barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline picked up 0.4 percent to $2.09 a gallon. Heating oil slipped 0.4 percent to $2.11 a gallon. Natural gas lost 1 percent to $2.73 per 1,000 cubic feet.
METALS: Gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,312.70 an ounce. Silver added 0.4 percent to $16.45 an ounce. Copper gained 0.4 percent to $3.08 a pound.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.20 yen from 109.73 yen. The euro rose to $1.1996 from $1.1988.
OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX fell 0.9 percent and France’s CAC 40 shed 0.5 percent. The British FTSE 100 dipped 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index dropped 1.2 percent, and South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.7 percent. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.