AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

Market Watch: US stocks are mixed; energy firms rise and health care falls

June 18, 2018 - 11:27 am
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By MARLEY JAY, AP Markets Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are mixed Monday afternoon as the week on Wall Street gets off to an indecisive start. Household goods makers and health care companies are slumping while energy companies are rising with oil prices, and technology companies and smaller, more U.S.-focused companies are making small gains. Indexes in Europe and Asia are lower, and Volkswagen is down after German authorities detained the CEO of its Audi division as part of an investigation into the manipulation of emissions controls.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 fell 6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,773 as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. Earlier the index fell as much as 22 points. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 118 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,972. The Nasdaq composite lost 2 points to 7,743.

The Russell 2000 fared better, as many investors feel the smaller and more U.S.-focused companies in that index are less vulnerable in the event that a major trade dispute slows growth in the global economy. The Russell rose 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,688, and it's on pace to top the record highs it set last week.

Most of the companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange traded higher.

LOSERS: Among health care companies, Johnson & Johnson lost 1.3 percent to $121.01 and Boston Scientific fell 1.5 percent to $32.47. Drug developer PTC Therapeutics jumped 24.1 percent to $46.59 after it reported positive results from a study of a drug intended to treat Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic disorder that affects infants.

However that sent shares of Biogen sharply lower, as PTC's drug could affect sales of Biogen's Spinraza. Biogen lost 5.5 percent to $288.33, while its partner Ionis Pharmaceuticals sank 8 percent to $42.86.

Consumer products company Procter & Gamble gave up 2.1 percent to $75.73 and Colgate-Palmolive declined 2.2 percent to $63.28.

THE QUOTE: The benchmark S&P 500 is basically back to where it was in late February, when international trade tensions started to weigh on the market. Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said some sectors that had struggled in the last few months are doing better recently.

"It's indicative of a market that's unconvinced that a trade war will develop," he said. Still, he said the next month of trading could be choppy as investors analyze the latest trade developments and wait for companies to start reporting their second-quarter results in mid-July.

AUDI CEO ARRESTED: German authorities detained the chief executive of Volkswagen's Audi division, Rupert Stadler, as part of a probe into the manipulation of emissions controls. The move is an extension of the emissions scandal that has rocked Volkswagen since 2015 and led to billions in fines, the arrest of executives and the indictment in the U.S. of its former CEO. Volkswagen stock fell 3.1 percent in Germany.

DEALS: Alphabet, Google's parent company, rose after it agreed to invest $550 million in Chinese e-commerce company JD.com. Alphabet picked up 1.7 percent to $1,179.47 while JD.com rose 0.3 percent to $43.72. JD rival Alibaba lost 0.6 percent to $206.65.

Rent-A-Center jumped 22.2 percent to $14.70 after private equity firm Vintage Capital Management agreed to buy it for $15 a share, or $800 million. Rent-A-Center leases household goods on a rent-to-own basis and had received a lower bid from Vintage earlier this month. Clothing company Perry Ellis lost 2.5 percent to $27.27 after founder George Feldenkreis started buying more stock to take the company private for $27.50 a share, or $437 million.

ENERGY: Oil futures rose as investors wait for an OPEC meeting later this week. Benchmark U.S. crude added 1.2 percent to $65.81 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 2.6 percent to $75.36 a barrel in London.

Chevron gained 1.7 percent to $126.17 and ConocoPhillips rose 2.8 percent to $67.20.

BONDS: Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.93 percent from 2.92 percent.

U.S.-CHINA TARIFFS: On Friday, President Donald Trump said the U.S. will put tariffs of up to 25 percent on some Chinese imports starting in July. Those tariffs target industrial and agricultural machinery, aerospace parts and communications technology. China said it will raise import duties on $34 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans, electric cars and whiskey. On Saturday the Trump administration launched an investigation into whether tariffs are needed on automobiles imported to the U.S. as talks with Canada and Mexico over the North American Trade Agreement stalled.

METALS: Gold rose 0.1 percent to $1,280.10 an ounce. Silver dipped 0.2 percent to $16.44 an ounce. Copper lost 1.2 percent to $3.11 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.50 yen from 110.62 yen late Friday. The euro inched down to $1.1616 from $1.1607.

OVERSEAS: The DAX in Germany fell 1.4 percent and the French CAC 40 lost 0.9 percent. Britian's FTSE 100 fell less than 0.1 percent.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.8 percent while South Korea's Kospi lost 1.2 percent. Markets in Hong Kong were closed for the Duanwu Festival commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, an ancient Chinese poet and minister.

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