Stocks fall slightly as util­i­ties slump

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN -

The stock mar­ket re­mains stuck in a rut.

On Tues­day, U.S. stocks ended the day with a slight loss as gains for the en­ergy sec­tor were off­set by a slump in util­i­ties.

Trea­sury notes fell for a sec­ond day af­ter a re­port showed that con­sumer prices rose in Europe for the first time since Novem­ber, a sign that global inf la­tion is pick­ing up from a low base.

Stocks have been tread­ing wa­ter for a month now as a se­ries of mod­est gains and losses have can­celed each other out.

The mar­ket re­mains close to record lev­els af­ter a six-year bull run, but in­vestors ap­pear re­luc­tant to push prices any higher with­out first see­ing ev­i­dence that the econ­omy is re­cov­er­ing from its win­ter slump.

“It’s still a de­cent mar­ket,” said Jerry Braak­man, chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer of First Amer­i­can Trust. “We’re up for the year but it’s not f ly­ing off the roof like it has been for the last five, or six years.”

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex fell 2.13 points, or 0.1%, to 2,109.60. The in­dex has gained 0.1% in the last month.

The Dow Jones industrial av­er­age dropped 28.43 points, or 0.2%, to 18,011.94. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite de­clined 6.40 points, or 0.1%, to 5,076.52.

Util­i­ties led de­clines for stocks as bond yields climbed for a sec­ond day.

In­vestors bought div­i­dend-rich util­ity stocks last year as bond yields plunged, but that trend has reversed as bond yields have edged higher in the last four months. The sec­tor has dropped 7.6% this year, mak­ing it the worst per­former among the 10 in­dus­try groups that make up the S&P 500.

The slump in that sec­tor was off­set by a gain in en­ergy stocks, which ben­e­fited from higher oil prices.

The price of oil rose nearly 2% to its high­est level since De­cem­ber on a sharp rise in the euro against the dollar. Bench­mark U.S. crude rose $1.06 to close at $61.26 a bar­rel in New York. Brent crude, a bench­mark for in­ter­na­tional oil used by many U.S. re­finer­ies, rose 61 cents to close at $65.49 a bar­rel in Lon­don.

In bond trad­ing, prices fell, push­ing yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note climbed to 2.26% from 2.18% on Mon­day.

The dollar weak­ened against the Ja­panese yen. Ear­lier, it climbed above 125 yen for the first time since 2002.

The U.S. cur­rency also weak­ened against the euro af­ter the Euro­pean con­sumer prices re­port. The cur­rency traded at $1.1153, up from $1.0934 the day be­fore.

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