Stocks waver after mixed earnings reports

U.S. stocks were moving between small gains and losses in noon trading Tuesday as investors reacted to mixed corporate earnings. JPMorgan Chase rose after reporting first-quarter results that beat expectations. Six of the 10 industry sectors in the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell, led by technology companies. Bond prices rose.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was up 33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,010 as of 11:50 a.m. Eastern time. The S&P 500 was up less than a point at 2,093. The Nasdaq composite fell 22 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,966.

JPMORGAN JUMPS: The nation's largest bank by assets rose 99 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $63.06 after reporting earnings rose 11 percent in the first quarter. The bank was helped by strong results in its currency, commodities and fixed-income trading businesses.

TRAIN TROUBLE: Norfolk Southern slumped six percent after forecasting disappointing first-quarter results as demand for coal shipments for export fell. Shares fell $6.43, or 6 percent to $98.46. The railroad company reports results on April 29.

J&J FLAT: Johnson & Johnson was little changed after reporting first-quarter profit fell 8.6 percent, hurt by unfavorable exchange rates, a divestiture and a slightly higher tax rate. The results beat Wall Street expectations, but the company also cut its full-year profit forecast. Shares fell 21 cents to $100.76.

WELLS DROPS: Wells Fargo fell 75 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $53.84 after reporting first-quarter earnings fell slightly from the same period a year earlier. Gains from trading and mortgages were offset by lower income from other sources, such as card fees and deposit service charges.

HEADING TO THE MALL: Retail sales jumped 0.9 percent last month, after declining 0.5 percent in February, the Commerce Department said. The rebound suggests that shoppers are returning after an unseasonably cold winter froze sales. The rise was less than economists had expected, however.

EARNINGS OVERALL: Companies in the S&P 500 are expected to report a 3 percent slump in earnings per share in the first quarter, the first quarterly drop since the U.S. was climbing out of recession in 2009. Much of the blame goes to a steep drop in oil prices. That has slashed the profits of oil drillers and other energy-related companies. A stronger U.S. currency has also hurt. It has made profits earned overseas by U.S. multinationals worth less when translated back to dollars.

THE QUOTE: “It's remarkable that we've had relatively weak economic data but the market has held up,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “And earnings are coming in negative. Investors are willing to look through that.”

EUROPE: France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX each fell 1.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was little changed.

MORE DEAL-MAKING: Nokia said it is in talks to buy French networks company Alcatel-Lucent. Shares in Alcatel-Lucent, which has reported losses for almost a decade, jumped 15 percent, while Nokia's stock dropped 4 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 closed little changed. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.5 percent.

CHINA FOCUS: Investors have their eyes on economic growth data on China, set to be released later in the week. Monday's trade data, showing a contraction by a bigger margin than expected, added to speculation of more stimulus measures.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1 to $52.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for many oils imported by U.S. refineries, gained 88 cents to $59.91 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 119.23 yen from 120.32 yen. The euro rose to $1.0678 from $1.0597.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.86 percent from 1.93 percent late Monday.

 

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