U.S. Stocks Cap Day of Listless Trading With Modest Gains

NEW YORK (AP) -

Wall Street capped another day of listless trading Wednesday with a slight gain, extending the market’s winning streak to a third day.

Financial, materials and industrial companies accounted for much of the gain, outweighing losses in health care and real estate stocks as investors reviewed the latest batch of company earnings reports.

Stock indexes spent much of the day wavering between small gains and losses as traders waited for signs of progress in the latest round of trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The benchmark S&P 500 index, which has risen for the past three weeks, gained 4.94 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,784.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 63.12 points, or 0.2 percent, to 25,954.44.

The Nasdaq composite rose 2.30 points, or 0.03 percent, to 7,489.07. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 7.19 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,581.66.

Major European indexes finished higher.

Roughly 84 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported results for the last three months of 2018, delivering earnings growth of about 13 percent versus a year earlier, according to FactSet. First-quarter snapshots are expected to result in a 2.7 percent decline in earnings, however.

Investors continued to assess corporate report cards Wednesday.

Garmin, maker of fitness trackers and navigation technology, jumped 17 percent after reporting better sales and profit margins in the fourth quarter. The company’s latest forecast came in ahead of financial analysts’ projections. The stock led all others in the consumer discretionary sector, which includes retailers, automakers and restaurant chains.

Cadence Design Systems climbed 4.6 percent after the software and engineering services company’s latest quarterly results topped Wall Street’s forecasts. The stock was the technology sector’s biggest gainer.

CVS Health slumped 8.1 percent after the pharmacy operator issued a 2019 outlook that fell short of analysts’ estimates. CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement that 2019 would be “a year of transition” as the company integrates the health insurer Aetna, which it purchased in a roughly $69 billion deal last year.

The Wednesday afternoon release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting of policymakers last month didn’t hold any big surprises for investors. At the meeting, Fed officials kept the central bank’s benchmark interest rate steady and, in a significant shift, sent a strong signal that they saw no need to raise rates anytime soon.

Oil prices rebounded after an early slide. U.S. benchmark crude rose 1.5 percent to settle at $56.92 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, gained 0.9 percent to close at $67.08 a barrel in London.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.65 percent from 2.64 percent late Tuesday.

The dollar rose to 110.84 yen from 110.66 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1350 from $1.1340.

Gold added 0.2 percent to $1,347.90 an ounce. Silver gained 1.3 percent to $16.18 an ounce. Copper jumped 1.6 percent to $2.92 a pound.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline climbed 2.2 percent to $1.60 a gallon. Heating oil added 1.2 percent to $2.02 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 1 percent to $2.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.