Stocks end mixed as investors digest tax plan and company earnings results

U.S. stocks finished mixed Thursday as investors pored over House Republican's tax proposals and after President Trump nominated Jerome H. Powell to lead the Federal Reserve. Weak earnings results from consumer and healthcare companies pulled those parts of the market down.

The House tax plan would temporarily cut the top corporate tax rate to 20% from 35%. That helped the stocks of smaller, more U.S.-focused companies, because they generally pay higher tax rates than larger firms that do a lot of business in other countries. Home improvement retailers and home builders slumped because the bill would reduce the amount of interest Americans can deduct on new mortgages. That could hurt home sales, particularly in high-cost areas.

The GOP tax plan was mostly what investors expected, said Mona Mahajan, U.S. investment strategist for Allianz Global Investors. She noted that the bill would immediately lower the corporate tax rate instead of reducing it over time, an idea some Republicans had proposed.

“That alone is a win for corporations becoming more competitive with global peers, especially the small-cap and domestic companies,” she said.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 0.49 of a point to 2,579.85. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 81.25 points, or 0.4%, to a record 23,516.26. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.59 points to 6,714.94. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks ticked up 3.77 points, or 0.3%, to 1,496.55. Slightly more stocks on the New York Stock Exchange fell than rose.

Luxury homebuilder Toll Bros. slid 6.1% to $43.79. Retailer Home Depot fell 1.6% to $162.71.

Several companies plunged after they cut their annual forecasts. Newell Brands, which makes Sharpie and Rubbermaid products, dived 26.8% to a three-year low of $30.01. Teva Pharmaceutical, which makes generic drugs, dropped 19.9% to $11.23. Underwear and sock maker Hanesbrands declined 8.8% to $20.08.

Symantec dropped 8.6% to $29.38 after the security software maker said it expects less revenue and fewer bookings than analysts hoped.

L Brands, on the other hand, jumped 8% to $47.10 after the parent of Victoria's Secret gave an optimistic forecast.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 2.35% from 2.37%. The yield on the two-year note fell to 1.60% from 1.62%.

U.S. crude oil rose 24 cents to $54.54 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 13 cents to $60.62 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.77 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.85 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4 cents to $2.94 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 80 cents to $1,278.10 an ounce. Silver fell 4 cents to $17.14 an ounce. Copper stayed at $3.14 a pound.

The dollar slipped to 114 yen from 114.22 yen. The euro rose to $1.1659 from $1.1620.

The Bank of England raised interest rates for the first time in a decade. The pound fell as investors felt rates won't go up again soon, and the British FTSE 100 index rose 0.9%.

Germany's DAX fell 0.2%. The CAC 40 in France declined 0.1%. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.5%, while the South Korean Kospi fell 0.4% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 0.3%.


UPDATES:

3:10 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

1:30 p.m.: This article was updated with the close of markets.

7:40 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

This article was originally published at 7:05 a.m.

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