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Stocks end mixed as Federal Reserve meeting nears

The New York Stock Exchange
The facade of the New York Stock Exchange, shown in 2007.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Major U.S. stock indexes ended mixed Monday as investors turned cautious ahead of a key Federal Reserve interest rate policy announcement and other potentially market-moving developments on tap for this week.

Banks, retailers and communications companies took the brunt of the selling. Those losses were partially offset by gains in healthcare and household goods makers. Utilities and real estate stocks also rose as traders shifted funds into traditionally less risky assets.

The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid modestly, cutting into some of the market’s gains from Friday, when the index set a new all-time high.

Traders expect the Federal Reserve to announce Wednesday that it is cutting interest rates for the first time in a decade to help ensure U.S. economic growth in the face of trade uncertainty.

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Investors will also be wading through a pile of corporate earnings reports this week. And they’ll be keeping an eye on U.S.-China trade negotiations, which resume Tuesday, and on a key government jobs report due out Friday.

“This is a marking-time sort of day with earnings coming up, with the Fed coming up, with the economic data coming up later this week,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. “If anything, you have a modest reaction to the all-time highs that we saw on Friday and a chance to take profits, but not much conviction either way.”

The S&P 500 index slipped 4.89 points, or 0.2%, to 3,020.97. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 28.90 points, or 0.1%, to 27,221.35.

The Nasdaq composite fell 36.88 points, or 0.4%, to 8,293.33. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 9.94, or 0.6%, to 1,569.02.

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Slightly more stocks rose than declined on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.06% from late Friday’s 2.08%.

Despite Monday’s selling, the record run at the end of last week kept the broader market on track for another month of gains. The S&P 500 is up 2.7% in July and the Nasdaq is up 3.6%.

Financial-sector stocks accounted for a big share of the selling Monday. Raymond James Financial slid 3.5%, and Wells Fargo & Co. dropped 2.1%. The sector fell as bond yields dropped. Lower bond yields pull down interest rates on mortgages and other loans.

Retailers and other consumer-oriented companies also weighed on the market, with Amazon sliding 1.6% and discount chain Dollar Tree losing 2.1%. Facebook declined 1.9% and Dish Network dropped 3.1% as part of a broad slump in communications stocks.

The healthcare sector rose, mostly propped up by pharmaceutical companies ahead of some key earnings reports. Some corporate deal news also helped boost the sector.

Pfizer slid 3.8% after the drug company said it would spin off one of its units, Upjohn, which would then combine with Mylan, which makes generic pharmaceuticals. Upjohn sells blockbusters such as Viagra and Lipitor that have lost patent protection. Mylan soared 12.6%.

Cancer diagnostics company Exact Sciences recovered most of an early slide, ending down 0.3%, after announcing a cash-and-stock buyout of diagnostic test maker Genomic Health, which rose 6.4%.

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Cooper Tire & Rubber’s latest quarterly report card helped put traders in a selling mood. The stock tumbled 9.6% after the company’s results fell far short of Wall Street’s forecasts because of a weak tire market in China and Europe. Higher tariff costs and a lingering weak tire market will continue to hurt the company this year, and it no longer expects volume growth.

Booz Allen Hamilton rose 3.4% after the defense contractor’s quarterly profit and revenue beat analysts’ estimates.

Beyond Meat sank 13% to $192.49 in after-hours trading after the maker of plant-based burgers posted a bigger loss than Wall Street forecast and announced a stock sale. It also reported better-than-expected quarterly sales and raised its full-year revenue guidance.

Companies are about halfway done with corporate earnings season, and the slowdown in profit growth isn’t as severe as analysts initially forecast. Among the big companies due to serve up their results this week are Apple on Tuesday and General Motors on Thursday.

Benchmark crude oil rose 67 cents to settle at $56.87 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 25 cents to close at $63.71 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.86 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents to $2.14 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $1.13 to $1,419.60 an ounce. Silver rose 4 cents to $16.37 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.69 a pound.


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