U.S. Stocks Muster Slight Gains After Listless Day of Trading


Major U.S. stock indexes capped a day of listless trading with modest gains Thursday, snapping the market’s two-day losing streak.

A late flurry of buying helped lift the indexes, which had spent much of the day moving sideways after an early rally lost momentum. Even so, the market remained on track for its fourth straight weekly loss and its first monthly decline of the year.

Gains in technology, health care and consumer discretionary stocks outweighed losses in energy, financials and other sectors. Bond prices rose again, sending yields lower. Oil and gas prices fell sharply.

Stocks have been sliding in volatile trading all month as investors come to grips with the potential impact that the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China could have on corporate and economic growth. With one day left of trading in May, the S&P 500 is heading for a monthly loss of about 5.3%.

The S&P 500 index rose 5.84 points, or 0.2%, to 2,788.86. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 43.47 points, or 0.2%, to 25,169.88.

The Nasdaq composite added 20.41 points, or 0.3%, to 7,567.72. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 4.42 points, or 0.3%, to 1,485.53.

Major stock indexes in Europe rose broadly.

Technology stocks, which are trailing only the energy sector in terms of losses this month, accounted for a big chunk of the market’s gains Thursday. Keysight Technologies led the sector and all other S&P 500 stocks, surging 11.3% after the electronics company’s first quarter profits beat analysts’ forecasts. Intel rose 1.1% and Qualcomm gained 1.3%.

Health care companies and retailers notched gains.

Energy stocks took the heaviest losses as crude oil prices fell sharply on oversupply concerns. The federal government reported that crude stocks fell just under 300,000 barrels last week. Oil trading advisory firm Ritterbusch and Associates expected a decline of 2 million barrels. Chevron slid 1.2% and Marathon Petroleum dropped 3.8%.

Banks fell as bond prices rose, sending bond yields lower. When bond yields decline they pull down interest rates, making loans less profitable. Bank of America slid 2.1% and Capital One Financial lost 1.2%.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.22% from 2.23% late Wednesday. The yield has been at the lowest level in nearly two years since Tuesday. Lower bond yields are typically a sign that investors are worried about weakening economic growth.

Investors had their eye on a mixed batch of corporate earnings reports Thursday.

Dollar General rose 7.2% and Dollar Tree gained 3.1% after the discount retailers gave investors solid quarterly earnings results.

Some retailers put investors in a selling mood.

PVH, the owner of the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, plunged 14.9% after cutting its full year profit forecast because of weak sales.

Ride-hailing company Uber reported Thursday that it booked $1 billion in losses for its fiscal first quarter, even as its revenue jumped 20% from a year earlier.

Energy futures closed broadly lower Thursday. Benchmark U.S. crude skidded 3.8% to settle at $56.59 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, closed 3.7% lower at $66.87 per barrel.