Tech stocks regain some ground, but indexes barely move

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U.S. stock indexes finished barely higher Tuesday after a late slump erased most of an early gain. Technology companies recovered some of the losses they took a day earlier, but energy companies and banks slipped.

Strong gains for software company Red Hat and recoveries for big names such as Apple and Facebook helped technology companies move up. Cruise lines rose after Carnival posted stronger quarterly results than expected. Small-company stocks continued to set record highs.

With little corporate or economic news to focus on, investors turned their attention to a speech by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen for clues about the Fed’s thinking on interest rates.

JJ Kinahan, chief strategist for TD Ameritrade, said investors have concluded over the last two weeks that the Fed will raise interest rates again in December, and Yellen’s remarks did nothing to dispel that idea.

In Washington, Senate Republicans said they won’t hold a vote on their latest healthcare bill because it did not have enough votes to pass. On Wednesday, the Trump administration plans to release an outline of its ideas on changes to the tax code.

With long negotiations probably just beginning, Kinahan said investors don’t expect much to get done right away.

“For calendar year 2017, the market is giving Washington a pass on taxes,” he said. “In 2018 that’s not going to be the case.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 0.18 of a point to 2,496.84. The Dow Jones industrial average, which was up as much as 73 points during the day, edged down 11.77 points, almost 0.1%, at 22,284.32 as McDonald’s fell and Chevron went into a late slide.

The Nasdaq composite rose 9.57 points, or 0.2%, to 6,380.16 after dropping 0.9% the day before. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 4.91 points, or 0.3%, to a record 1,456.86.

Carnival rose 2.9% to $65.32 after posting profit and revenue that surpassed Wall Street’s expectations. The cruise line raised its annual forecasts and said bookings and prices for next year are higher than at this time last year. Its competitor Royal Caribbean Cruises rose 2.9% to $117.19.

Open-source software maker Red Hat climbed 4.1% to $110.07 after reporting a better-than-expected quarter. Chip maker Nvidia rose 0.6% to $171.96 after it said several major Chinese companies, including e-commerce giants Alibaba and Baidu, will use its products in data centers and cloud computing platforms.

Apple ticked up 1.7% to $153.14. Facebook rose 0.8% to $164.21.

The director of global sports marketing for athletic apparel maker Adidas was one of 10 people charged in what the U.S. government described as a scheme to match agents and advisors to college basketball players before they became NBA stars. Four assistant basketball coaches were arrested along with Adidas executive James Gatto. Adidas shares fell 2.4% in Germany.

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Darden Restaurants dropped 6.5% to $77.71 after it reported weak sales growth at its Olive Garden chain.

Ascena Retail Group rose 6% to $2.30 after the parent of Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and other women’s clothing stores posted better quarterly results than expected.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 34 cents to $51.88 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, fell 58 cents to $58.44 a barrel in London. Chevron shares edged down 0.4% to $117.52, and Schlumberger fell 1.2% to $68.82.

Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.70 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.85 a gallon. Natural gas stayed at $2.92 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Bond prices declined. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.23% from 2.22%.

Gold fell $9.80 to $1,301.70 an ounce. Silver declined 26 cents to $16.88 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $2.92 a pound.

The dollar rose to 112.17 yen from 111.61 yen. The euro fell to $1.1798 from $1.1846.

Germany’s DAX rose 0.1%. The FTSE 100 in Britain fell 0.2%. France’s CAC 40 rose less than 0.1%. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 and the South Korean Kospi both lost 0.3%, and the Hang Seng of Hong Kong edged up less than 0.1%.


UPDATES:

3:55 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 9:15 a.m.

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