Stocks edge higher, helped by gold miners
Stocks overcame some disappointing quarterly performances Monday with gold and copper prices boosting mining companies. That helped nudge stocks to another all-time high.
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One sector that struggled was homebuilders. Sales of previously occupied homes slipped in June to an annual rate of 5.08 million, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.Skip to next paragraph
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As a result, Pulte Group fell 22 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $19.14. Lennar fell 73 cents, or 2.1 percent to $34.80.
The stock market has surged in July after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke assured investors that the U.S. central bank would not pull back on its stimulus before the economy was strong enough. The Fed is buying $85 billion of bonds each month to keep long-term interest rates low and to encourage spending.
The S&P 500 has gained 5.6 percent in July. That puts the index on track for it best month since October 2011.
Small company stocks have fared even better. The Russell 2000 closed above 1,000 for the first time on July 5 and is up 7.8 percent for the month. That signals that investors have become more comfortable buying riskier assets.
In commodities trading, the price of oil fell 93 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $106.94 a barrel.
In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged from Friday at 2.48 percent. As recently as July 5, the yield was as high as 2.74 percent.
As of Monday, 63 percent of the companies that have reported earnings have exceeded expectations. That's above the historical average.
S&P 500 companies are forecast to report earnings growth of 3.6 percent for the second quarter compared with a year earlier, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.
Analysts expect earnings growth to climb to 5.63 percent in the third quarter and 11.12 percent in the fourth quarter.
Those forecasts may prove optimistic if economic growth doesn't accelerate in the second half of the year, said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial.
"I'm a little suspect that we're going to see double digit (earnings) growth," said Sheldon. "We're more likely in a period of moderate to sluggish growth."
Among other stocks making big moves.
— Hasbro Inc.'s stock rose $1.49, or 3.3 percent, to $46.87. The nation's second biggest toy maker said Monday that it is expanding a merchandising deal with The Walt Disney Co. for properties including Marvel and Star Wars.
— Yahoo fell $1.25, or 4.3 percent, to $27.86. The company said Monday that activist investor Dan Loeb and two other directors nominated by his hedge fund, Third Point LLC, are leaving Yahoo's board after big gains in the company's stock price the past year.
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