Stocks turn higher in choppy trading
NEW?YORK?(AP) -Major U.S. stock indexes are turning higher in the late afternoon as the market shuffles between gains and losses. Johnson & Johnson and Coca-Cola rose after reporting encouraging quarterly results, but homebuilders fell following a survey showing weak sentiment among builders. Apple and Netflix also fell.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 12 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,843 as of 3:50 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 87 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,260. The Nasdaq rose 14 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,004.
COKE: Coca-Cola said strong sales of noncarbonated drinks such as juice helped offset a first-quarter decline in global soda volume. A stronger dollar contributed to an 8 percent decline in profit for the world’s biggest beverage maker. But the company’s adjusted results for the quarter were in line with Wall Street expectations. Coca-Cola rose $1.51, or 3.9 percent, to $40.24.
HEALTHY RESULTS: Johnson & Johnson’s first-quarter profit rose 8 percent because of restrained costs and a jump in prescription drug sales. The world’s biggest maker of health care products topped Wall Street expectations and raised its earnings outlook. Its stock rose $1.59, or 1.6 percent, to $98.72.
“So far earnings season has progressed nicely. We’re looking for healthy earnings growth and, so far we’re getting it,” said Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at JPMorgan Chase. “But there’s a bit of a tug-of-war with what’s happening internationally.”
HOUSING HO-HUM: A key gauge of U.S. homebuilders’ confidence in the housing market rose modestly in April but remained low for the third straight month. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index edged up to 47 this month from 46 in March. Readings below 50 mean builders view sales conditions as poor. Builders expect sales to improve over the spring and summer. The survey results sent homebuilders lower. Hovnanian Enterprises fell 5 cents, or 1 percent, to $4.50.
IN THE DOG HOUSE: PetSmart shares fell sharply after an analyst downgraded the stock, saying new competition in pet care will create trouble for the retailer. PetSmart fell $2.55, or 3.7 percent, to $66.83. Other big decliners in the S&P 500 index included First Solar, down $1.74 or about 2.6 percent, to $66.54 and Netflix, down $6.13, or 29 percent, to $325.47. Wynn Resorts plunged $7.35, or 3.5 percent, to $202.95.
UKRAINE TENSIONS: Beyond balance sheets, investors were tuned into the developing situation in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian insurgents dug in Tuesday, fortifying positions around seized buildings. Western governments have accused Moscow of fueling the unrest in eastern Ukraine and worry that any bloodshed could be used as a pretext for a Russian invasion, in a repeat of events in Crimea a few weeks ago.