Stocks Are Mixed as Energy Companies Rise; Tech Stocks Drop


stocks, markets, Wall Streets

U.S. stocks are mixed Thursday, as gains for energy companies are mostly canceled out by losses for technology stocks. The price of crude oil rose about 1.6 percent. Household-goods makers are mostly higher after some recent losses; but J.M. Smucker dropped after issuing a weak quarterly report and a disappointing forecast for the year.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index lost 6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,765 as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. It’s risen for four days in a row. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 81 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,227. The Nasdaq composite was on track for its biggest loss in six weeks as it slumped 75 points, or 1 percent, to 7,614. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks slid 10 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,665. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

JAMMED UP: Smucker’s profit and sales fell short of analyst estimates, as did the company’s forecasts for the new fiscal year. The maker of jams, jellies and other foods said it is facing difficulties, including higher raw materials and freight costs and rising interest rates. The stock lost 5.5 percent to $101.63.

Other household goods and food companies traded higher. Tide-maker Procter & Gamble jumped 2.3 percent to $76.04 and Costco rose 1.98 percent to $201.37. The stocks have struggled recently, as some of their products might be hit with tariffs, which could affect their sales. Meanwhile, rising interest rates have encouraged income-seeking investors to buy other assets, like bonds.

TRADE DEAL: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. government has reached a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE that includes a $1 billion fine, monitoring and leadership changes. ZTE has already paid about $1 billion for selling equipment to North Korea and Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. In April, the department blocked ZTE from importing any U.S. components for seven years, which threatened to put the company out of business.

The Wall Street Journal said that with the ZTE matter settled, China’s government will likely approve a deal for Qualcomm to buy NXP Semiconductors. Qualcomm added 0.9 percent to $60.38, and NXP rose 5.6 percent to $120.96.

TIME OUT FOR TECH: Technology stocks have fared far better than the rest of the market for more than a year; and the Nasdaq composite has finished at record highs of the last few days. It’s up 10 percent in 2018, compared to less than 4 percent for the S&P 500.

But on Thursday, technology companies fared worse than the rest of the market. Facebook lost 2 percent to $187.95 and Microsoft fell 1.4 percent to $101.04. Chipmaker Lam Research shed 6.3 percent to $186.99; and software-maker Adobe gave up 3.7 percent to $244.64.

ALLERGAN ACTIVISM? Allergan jumped 4.4 percent to $162.23 after Bloomberg News reported that investor Carl Icahn bought a small stake in the Botox maker. Bloomberg had no details on Icahn’s plans; but he could join other activist investors who are pushing the company to make bigger changes.

At the end of May, the company finished a strategic review and said it could sell its infectious disease and women’s health businesses. But on Tuesday, Senator Investment Group and Appaloosa sent Allergan a letter saying they were “underwhelmed,” and they suggested splitting Allergan’s CEO and chairman roles and making changes to its board. Allergan stock is down 29 percent over the last 12 months.

FORTIVE BID: Industrial conglomerate Fortive rose 3.9 percent to $77.87 after it offered to pay $2.7 billion for Johnson & Johnson’s sterilization products division. Johnson & Johnson added 0.4 percent to $123.23.

IT’S ON LIKE CONN’S: Retailer Conn’s soared 22.4 percent to $31.40 after its first quarter was far better than Wall Street expected. It said an important sales measurement improved in April for the first time in two years.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.94 percent from 2.97 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.60 yen from 110.19 yen. The euro rose to $1.1813 from $1.1768 after a European Central Bank board member said policymakers will discuss ending the bank’s bond-purchasing stimulus program.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 1.7 percent to $65.82 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 2.3 percent to $77.06 per barrel in London.

METALS: Gold rose 0.1 percent to $1,303 an ounce. Silver added 0.7 percent to $16.82 an ounce. Copper gained 0.4 percent to $3.28 a pound.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX lost 0.1 percent and the CAC 40 in France slid 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent after London’s stock exchange opened one hour late because of a technical problem.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 0.9 percent, while the Kospi in South Korea finished up 0.7 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.8 percent.

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