U.S. stocks are mostly lower Tuesday morning as health care stocks fall on continued scrutiny of drug prices. Energy companies are rising with the price of oil. Earnings reports are driving much of the action.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,951 as of 10:50 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index held steady at 2,088. The Nasdaq composite index slid 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,881. The Nasdaq has fallen for three days in a row.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude jumped 75 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $43.39 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 72 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $45.20 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline and heating oil also climbed.
Murphy Oil rose 51 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $34.02 and Devon Energy gained 41 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $34.36.
HEALTH CARE SLIPS: Drug companies fell as investors looked ahead to the latest Congressional panel on drug prices. The Senate Aging Committee will hold its third meeting on drug prices Wednesday, and on Tuesday the committee said former Valeant Pharmaceuticals executive Robert Schiller and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, an investor in Valeant, will both be questioned.
Investors in drug companies fear that Congressional scrutiny will make it harder for the companies to keep raising drug prices and keep their profits growing. Alexion Pharmaceuticals lost $4.72, or 3 percent, to $153.30. Endo International fell 83 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $29.21.
DUPONT DOES IT: DuPont picked up $1.42, or 2.2 percent, to $67.39. The chemicals giant expects a larger profit for the year, saying the strong dollar won’t hurt its results as much as it predicted. Those results gave a lift to materials companies. Dow Chemical, which is preparing to combine with DuPont, added $1.14, or 2.2 percent, to $53.68.
INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH: Companies that make mining and construction equipment also gained ground.
Manufacturing company Ingersoll-Rand rose $1.27, or 2 percent, to $65.30 after it posted a larger-than-expected profit and raised its profit projections for the year. Truck maker Paccar reported a bigger-than-expected profit and gained $1.63, or 2.9 percent, to $57.68. Truck leasing company Ryder System posted a bigger profit and more revenue than analysts projected and added $1.14, or 1.7 percent, to $66.39.
FRESH: Grocery store chain SuperValu jumped 34 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $5.49 after its profit surpassed estimates.
BP BEATS: Oil company BP’s profit was larger than expected and it left its dividend unchanged despite falling earnings and oil prices. Its U.S.-traded stock rose $1.46, or 4.6 percent, to $33.25.
BROKEN GLASS: Specialty glass maker Corning lost $1.56, or 7.4 percent, to $19.41 after its sales were weaker than expected.
WHIRLPOOL SOAKED: Whirlpool, the appliance maker behind Maytag, KitchenAid and other brands, reported disappointing profit and sales. The company said its business was hurt by the strong dollar. The stock lost $10.83, or 5.8 percent, to $175.21.
NOT SO SWEET: Chocolate maker Hershey cut its profit forecasts after first-quarter its sales were weaker than expected. The stock gave up $1.77, or 1.9 percent, to $89.61.
SAREPTA SKIDS: Drug developer Sarepta Therapeutics plunged after a Food and Drug Administration panel said its muscular dystrophy drug eteplirsen shouldn’t be approved. The panelists said evidence didn’t show the drug is effective. The stock fell $5.37, or 35.9 percent, to $9.58.
OVERSEAS: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent, while Germany’s DAX lost 0.2 percent and France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.6 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.5 percent.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.93 percent from 1.92 percent a day earlier. The dollar fell to 111.11 yen from 111.28 yen. The euro rose to $1.1311 from $1.1261.
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