Tech stocks were the standouts in an otherwise sluggish day of trading on Monday, as investors gear up for the arrival of the heart of earnings reporting season.
Apple and Microsoft each climbed more than 1%, and tech stocks in the S&P 500 jumped 1.2%, but none of the other 10 sectors that make up the index moved by more than 0.4%.
The next two weeks will bring a tidal wave of earnings reports, which could lead to more movement for stocks. Roughly three-fifths of S&P 500 companies are scheduled to update investors on how much profit they made from April through June, and expectations are generally low. A slowing global economy and rising costs are weighing on companies’ profits, and many investors are more interested in what CEOs say about how President Donald Trump’s trade war will affect their future sales than in their results for the spring.
The other big event for markets is the Federal Reserve’s meeting at the end of the month, when investors expect the central bank to cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade.
The price of crude oil continued to climb amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf area. Iran on Monday announced the arrest of 17 people it accused of spying for the United States, something President Donald Trump called “totally false.” On Friday, Iran said it seized a British oil tanker.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was up 0.3% as of 2 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20 points, or 0.1%, to 27,174, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.7%.
The S&P 500 is back within 1% of its record, which was set a week ago.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EARNINGS: Stocks have surged to record heights this year largely because expectations for Fed rate cuts mean investors are willing to pay higher prices for each $1 of earnings that a company produces. For the market to make its next move higher, though, many analysts say companies need to produce more dollars of earnings.
That’s not happening just yet. Analysts expect S&P 500 companies to report a drop of 2.1% in their second-quarter earnings per share from a year ago, according to FactSet. While that’s not as bad as the 3% drop that analysts were earlier forecasting, it would mark the first back-to-back quarterly decline in three years.
THAT WAS SLICK: Halliburton surged 8% for Monday’s biggest gain in the S&P 500 after the oilfield service provider reported a bigger profit than Wall Street expected, even though its revenue was weaker than analysts forecast.
HEALTHY RETURNS: Health-care company DaVita jumped 4.7% after it raised its profit forecast for this year and gave a preliminary report on its second-quarter results. DaVita now expects to earn $1.64 billion to $1.7 billion in operating profit this year, up from its prior forecast of $1.54 billion to $1.64 billion.
BUSY WEEK: Besides earnings reports from more than a quarter of all the companies in the S&P 500, investors this week will also be getting updates on the housing industry, manufacturing and the overall U.S. economy. Economists expect a Friday report to show that the U.S. economy slowed to 1.8% annualized growth in the spring from a 3.1% rate in the first three months of the year.
OIL SPURT: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 63 cents, or 1.1%, to $56.39 per barrel as tensions in the Middle East raised worries about possible disruptions for oil supplies.
Brent crude, the international standard, gained 98 cents or, 1.6%, to $63.45 per barrel.
MARKETS ABROAD: European markets were modestly higher, while Asian indexes were weaker.
The FTSE 100 in London added 0.1%, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.3% and the DAX in Germany gained 0.2%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 1.4% and the Kospi in South Korea was virtually flat.
YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.03% from 2.05% late Friday.
Some investors have recently scaled back their expectations for how much the Fed may cut rates on July 31, down to a quarter of a percentage point from a half point. The two-year Treasury yield, which is more affected by changes in Fed policy, held steady at 1.81.