Stocks inch up day after plunge
Utilities and telecommunications lead the market to small gains, but not enough to make up for Monday.
new york» U.S. stocks managed some small gains Tuesday, but not enough to make up for big losses from the day before.
Utilities and telecommunications stocks rose the most. General Motors and Ford dropped as their December sales fell short of analysts’ estimates.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 9.72 points, or 0.06 percent, to 17,158.66. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 4.05 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,016.71. The Nasdaq composite fell 11.66 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,891.43, as shares of Apple sank 2.5 percent.
Stocks spent most of the day alternating between small gains and losses then turned positive in the last hour of trading. The relatively stable trading came a day after a plunge in China’s main index set off a bout of selling in global markets.
Despite increased tensions in the Middle East, energy prices continued to tumble because demand appears weak while global stockpiles are large. Analysts surveyed by Platts said they think refining decreased last week and stockpiles will grow again.
U.S. crude fell 79 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $35.97 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 80 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $36.42 a barrel in London.
The biggest losses belonged to drilling services companies. Ensco lost $1, or 6.3 percent, to $14.89, and Diamond Offshore Drilling decreased $1.05, or 4.8 percent, to $20.80. Transocean and Baker Hughes also fell.
Automakers reported that last month was the best December in the history of the U.S. auto industry, with 1.6 million cars and trucks sold. But shares of General Motors and Ford slumped as their monthly totals fell short of analysts’ projections.
GM shares fell 88 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $32.43. Ford declined 25 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $13.72. Auto parts supplier Delphi Automotive gave up $2.33, or 2.8 percent, to $81.66.
Gun makers continued to trade higher as President Barack Obama announced executive actions intended to reduce gun violence and unregulated sales. The prospect of additional background checks and other restrictions often boosts demand for guns.
Smith & Wesson rose $2.58, or 11.1 percent, to $25.86 and Sturm Ruger gained $4.15, or
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ON6.8 percent, to $65.54. Late Monday, Smith & Wesson raised its profit estimates for the year, saying sales were better than it had expected.