December 12, 2017
Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dow at record but S&P flat as energy weighs

Wal-Mart shares climbed 3.6 percent to $82.05 as one of the biggest boosts to both the Dow and S&P 500 indexes.

The Dow industrials closed at a record high today, boosted by gains in Wal-Mart, but the S&P 500 was little changed as energy shares tracked crude futures prices lower.

The energy sector cut its losses late in the session after Dow Jones reported Halliburton is in talks to buy Baker Hughes. Halliburton ended up 1 percent after earlier falling as much as 4.6 percent, while Baker Hughes rallied to close up 15.3 percent at $58.75.

They were, however, the only two stocks to finish higher in the energy sector of the S&P 500, which closed down 1.3 percent. Energy shares fell as Brent crude slid below $78 a barrel while US crude tumbled 3.6 percent to $74.39, both at their lowest in more than four years.

Wal-Mart closed up 4.7 percent at $82.94 after posting higher same-store sales for the first time in seven quarters. It earlier hit a high of $83.06.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.59 points, or 0.23 percent, to 17,652.79, the S&P 500 gained 1.08 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,039.33 and the Nasdaq Composite added 5.01 points, or 0.11 percent, to 4,680.14.

Despite the slight gains, declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE 1,974 to 1,085, for a 1.82-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,800 issues fell and 893 advanced for a 2.02-to-1 ratio.

Apple rose as high as $113.45 to a fresh record while Microsoft, up 1.7 percent to $49.61, swelled to a market cap above $408 billion. It overtook Exxon Mobil as the second-largest publicly traded U.S. company, behind Apple.

DreamWorks Animation shares jumped 14.1 percent to $25.52 after the New York Times said toymaker Hasbro Inc was in talks to buy the Hollywood studio. Hasbro shares lost 4.3 percent to $54.98.

US-traded BlackBerry shares jumped 7 percent to $12.06 after it unveiled its new mobile-device management and security platform and struck wide-ranging partnerships.

The S&P 500 posted 67 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 139 new highs and 63 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges hit 6.4 billion, below the month-to-date average of 6.55 billion, according to BATS Global Markets data.

European stocks

Across the Atlantic, European stocks ended slightly higher, pausing for breath following the previous session's sell-off, although energy shares sank along with Brent crude prices.

Brent futures tumbled more than 2 percent to below $79 a barrel, hitting a four-year low, dragged down in part by data showing China's economy lost momentum again in October.

Both oil majors Total and BP fell 0.9 percent, while oil services firms Seadrill and Saipem dropped 4.3 percent.

The prospect of belt-tightening by energy majors as oil prices plunge has hurt the oil services sector, with some shares plummeting between 30 percent and 65 percent in recent months.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 0.2 percent higher at 1,346.56 points. The benchmark index, which dropped 1.1 percent on Wednesday, has been stuck in a tight range since late October.

On the earnings front, Belgian lender KBC rose 6.1 percent after posting a better-than-expected net profit, while Portuguese retailer Jeronimo Martins surged 6.8 percent after saying it still expects strong sales growth and profitability at its leading unit, Poland's Biedronka.

Spain's renewable energy firm Abengoa tumbled 18 percent after slashing its full-year revenue target.

With the European earnings season nearing an end, results overall have been strong, with 60 percent of companies meeting or beating profit forecasts, according to StarMine data.

In absolute terms, however, while profits are up 13 percent, revenues are up a meagre 0.8 percent, highlighting that Europe's earnings rebound has mostly come from cost-cutting.

Japanese stocks

Meanwhile, Japanese stocks rose to fresh seven-year highs today as investors lapped up a media report that said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have decided to call an early election amid mounting expectations he would postpone a planned sales tax hike.

The report from Jiji news agency was the latest in a spate of shifting speculation that has kept markets rapt this week.

The Nikkei benchmark ended 1.1 percent higher to 17,392.79, the highest closing level since June 2007.

Jiji reported in the afternoon that Tadamori Oshima, a former deputy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said Abe appears to have made a decision to call an election.

The Topix rose 0.9 percent to 1,389.51, and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 0.9 percent to 12,692.60.

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Tags:  Stocks  shares  FTSEurofirst  Nikkei  US  Dow Jones  

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