Stocks fall slightly as utilities slump
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.