Consumer goods firms lead US stocks slightly higher
U.S. stock indexes were on course to close slightly higher in late-afternoon trading Monday. Consumer and household goods companies posted some of the biggest gains, offsetting losses by industrial and energy stocks. A batch of corporate deal news also helped lift the market. Mattel soared on a report that Hasbro offered to buy the rival toymaker.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,585 as of 3:38 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,454. The Nasdaq composite added 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,759. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks inched up 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,476. The stock market snapped an eight-week string of gains last week.
THE QUOTE: Consumer staples stocks and utilities are leading the market higher, which is a signal that investors are looking for yield, said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research. "They're maybe showing a little bit of skepticism in the bull market that's more than eight years old," she said. "Maybe they're feeling a little bit squeamish after last week."
LET'S PLAY TOGETHER: Toymaker Mattel soared about 21 percent following a report that rival Hasbro made an offer to buy the company. Mattel was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing $3.05 to $17.67. Hasbro added $5.70, or 6.2 percent, to $97.15. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
SHOPPING FOR MALLS: GGP jumped 8.1 percent after Brookfield Property Partners offered to buy the rest of shopping mall owner for $14 billion, or $23 a share. Shares in GGP rose $1.80 to $24.
NO, THANKS: Qualcomm rose 3.1 percent after the company rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from Broadcom worth $103 billion, or $70 a share, saying the proposal is significantly undervalued and that a tie-up between the massive chipmakers would face substantial regulatory resistance. Shares in Qualcomm added $1.98 to $66.55. Broadcom fell 45 cents to $264.51.
EAT 'EM UP: Tyson Foods rose 1.6 percent after the meat producer posted a larger profit and greater sales than analysts had expected. The stock added $1.19 to $75.33.
CONSUMER FRIENDLY: Consumer and household goods companies were among the big gainers. J. M. Smucker rose $2.39, or 2.3 percent, to $106.51.
GE DIVIDEND: General Electric slumped 8 percent after it said that it will slash its dividend in half to 12 cents per share, starting next month. The company also released annual profit projections that were well below what Wall Street had been expecting. Chairman and CEO John Flannery, speaking to investors gathered in Boston, said the cost-cutting maneuver is part of the measures GE will undertake to make the company simpler and stronger. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, losing $1.65 to $18.84. GE is down 40 percent this year.
MORE ASSETS: WisdomTree Investments fell 5.4 percent after the asset management company said it will pay $611 million to buy a European division of ETF Securities. Shares in WisdomTree shed 65 cents to $11.29.
BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held at 2.40 percent.
OIL: Energy futures closed mostly lower. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 2 cents to settle at $56.76 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 36 cents to close at $63.16 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline gave up 2 cents to $1.79 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $1.93 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5 cents to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Energy stocks were trading lower. Newfield Exploration slid $1.15, or 3.5 percent, to $32.16.
METALS: Gold rose $4.70 to $1,278.90 an ounce. Silver added 18 cents to $16.05 an ounce. Copper gained 4 cents to $3.12 a pound.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.57 yen from 113.54 yen on Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.1667 from $1.1618. The pound slid to $1.3114 from $1.3126 as investors worried that British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a rebellion within her own party over the handling of the Brexit talks.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX shed 0.4 percent, while France's CAC 40 fell 0.7 percent. London's FTSE 100 slid 0.2 percent. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 1.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent. Seoul's Kospi slid 0.5 percent. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 fell 0.1 percent. India's Sensex lost 0.4 percent. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Jakarta rose, while Taiwan and Singapore declined.