Stocks end mostly higher, but Boeing drops again

Trader Dudley Devine works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Technology and healthcare companies led U.S. stock indexes mostly higher Tuesday, building on the market’s solid gains from the day before.

Boeing, meanwhile, weighed down the Dow Jones industrial average for a second day. The aircraft maker fell, leading a slide in industrial sector stocks, amid safety concerns following Sunday’s deadly crash involving Boeing’s most popular plane.

A report showing that U.S. consumer prices rose modestly last month — the latest evidence that inflation remains in check — helped lift stocks.

The market’s latest gains extend this week’s rebound. “It just goes to show that investors are taking advantage of the pullback we had last week,” which was the market’s worst week since December, said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA. “What’s notable in the last couple of days is the move you’re seeing in the Nasdaq. You’re starting to see that return to growth in the market right now.”


The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.22 points, or 0.3%, to 2,791.52. The Dow fell 96.22 points, or 0.4%, to 25,554.66.

The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 32.97 points, or 0.4%, to 7,591.03. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies edged up 0.96 point, or 0.1%, to 1,549.83.

Major European stock indexes finished mostly higher before Britain’s Parliament voted to reject a deal for the United Kingdom to exit from the European Union. The move plunges the Brexit process into chaos just 17 days before Britain is due to leave the bloc.

Traders appeared to mostly shrug off the developments in Britain, though U.S. indexes lost some of their gains toward the end of the day as the Brexit vote was being held.


The two-day rally has helped the market reclaim the momentum it had in January and February, when it posted the best two-month start to a year since 1991. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are showing double-digit gains for the year so far, and the Dow is up more than 9%.

Investors are still waiting for more details on any potential U.S.-China trade deal. Costly tariffs have hurt both nations, and investors hope a deal can be struck to at least take some pressure off the global economy, which has shown signs of cooling.

Technology and healthcare stocks did the most to lift the market Tuesday. Apple and UnitedHealth each rose 1.1%.

Boeing shares slid 6.1%, the stock’s second day of steep losses, as more countries grounded the aircraft manufacturer’s 737 Max 8 after the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 on Sunday. All 157 people aboard the plane were killed. A similar Lion Air plane crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189 people.


The Labor Department’s latest snapshot of consumer prices helped put investors in a buying mood. The consumer price index rose 1.5% last month compared with a year earlier. The small increase is the latest evidence that inflation remains muted, which gives the Federal Reserve more flexibility in holding off on further interest rate increases, said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager for private wealth management at U.S. Bank.

“The markets are reflecting a more favorable interpretation of the shift in central bank policies,” he said. “They’re creating more of a favorable backdrop.”

Stitch Fix soared 25.2% after the personal styling service’s fourth-quarter results blew past analyst expectations.

Dick’s Sporting Goods dived 11% after the company reported a slide in fourth-quarter sales and issued a weak forecast. A key sales figure fell 2.2% in the period, more than analysts expected.


Marijuana stocks rose after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders said they have agreed on legislation to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. The agreement comes after more than a year of negotiations. Tilray gained 3.1%. Canopy Growth rose 1.4%.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.61% from 2.64%.

The dollar strengthened to 111.29 yen from 111.21 yen. The euro rose to $1.1297 from $1.1240.

The price of U.S. crude oil rose 8 cents to $56.87 a barrel. Brent crude rose 9 cents to $66.67 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.82 a gallon. Heating oil fell less than 1 cent to $1.99 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $2.78 per 1,000 cubic feet.


Gold rose 7 cents to $1,291.10 an ounce. Silver rose 14 cents to $15.41 an ounce. Copper rose 3 cents to $2.93 a pound.