Big health-care companies including Johnson & Johnson rallied, as did telecommunications and household goods makers. Steel and other materials makers skidded, and a steep loss for United Technologies pulled defense contractors lower.
Technology companies rose even though President Donald Trump said he expects more tariffs on goods imported from China, some of which would hit products like computers and smartphones. President Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Group of 20 summit in Argentina later this week.
“It is not unexpected that the administration would ramp up their threats moving into that meeting,” said Tracie McMillion, head of global asset allocation for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. She said trading will probably be volatile for the rest of the week, but stocks are likely to rise if the two sides are able to strike even a very general agreement.
The S&P 500 index rose 8.72 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,682.17. The index jumped 1.6 percent Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 108.49 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,748.73. The Nasdaq composite inched up 0.85 points to 7,082.80 after surging 2.1 percent a day earlier.
With two months of volatility on investors’ minds and more likely to come, Wall Street gravitated toward safer, high-dividend communications, utility and consumer goods companies. Verizon gained 2.5 percent to $60.65, Public Service Enterprise Group climbed 1.5 percent to $54.29 and cigarette maker Altria Group rose 1.1 percent to $53.79 as tobacco companies recovered some of their recent losses.
Smaller companies, especially in heavy industry and retail, took steeper losses. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 13.10 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,492.86.
Those companies made big gains at the end of 2017, when Republicans passed a corporate tax cut. The Russell 2000 set a record high in late August but is now down 2.8 percent for the year.
“Later in the (economic) cycle, the cost of borrowing impacts small businesses,” said McMillion. “Not being able to hire the labor that they need to continue to grow could be a factor in that as well.”
United Technologies said it will split into three companies now that it has finished its purchase of aviation electronics maker Rockwell Collins. The company’s aerospace and defense industry business will keep the United Technologies name, while its Otis elevator business and Carrier air conditioner and building systems unit will become separate companies.
Investors weren’t impressed with the company’s forecasts for Rockwell Collins. United Technologies also said it doesn’t expect to buy back any more of its stock during the breakup, which could take up to two years. The stock fell 4.1 percent to $122.68.
Other defense companies also dipped. Northrop Grumman fell 2.1 percent to $260.34 and Raytheon dropped 1.7 percent to $171.67.
Spirit Airlines surged 15.3 percent to $58.76 after it forecast a big jump in revenue in the fourth quarter. Investors were hopeful that other airlines might see similar gains. Delta climbed 2.8 percent to $58.31 and United Continental picked up 1.8 percent to $93.38.
President Trump told the Wall Street Journal late Monday that he expects to raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports on Jan. 1. His administration recently imposed a 10 percent tax on those imports, and at the start of the year that’s scheduled to rise to 25 percent. Trump also threatened again to place tariffs on all remaining U.S. imports from China.
The administration’s tariffs have driven up costs for many businesses, but consumers haven’t felt as much of a sting. Another round of tariffs on products like laptops and computers would change that.
Apple slipped 0.2 percent to $174.24. Its stock has fallen 25 percent since early October, wiping out about $270 billion in value and leaving Apple and Microsoft essentially tied as the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world. Microsoft edged ahead a few times during the day, but at the close of trading, investors valued Apple at about $827 billion and Microsoft at $822 billion.
Microsoft rose 0.6 percent to $107.14. The company hasn’t done any worse than the rest of the stock market in October and November, and for technology companies, that’s been an unusually good result.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 0.1 percent to $51.56 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, dipped 0.4 percent to $60.21 a barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline fell 1.5 percent to $1.42 a gallon and heating oil slipped 0.4 percent to $1.89 a gallon. Natural gas edged up 0.4 percent to $4.26 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.06 percent from 3.07 percent.
Gold fell 0.7 percent to $1,213.40 an ounce. Silver declined 0.9 percent to $14.08 an ounce. Copper sank 1.7 percent to $2.71 a pound.
The dollar edged up to 113.79 yen from 113.64 yen. The euro felt to $1.1296 from $1.1328.
Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 percent and the British FTSE 100 slid 0.3 percent. In France, the CAC 40 lost 0.2 percent.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.6 percent and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.8 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gave up 0.3 percent.