Markets largely unmoved on earnings and Europe news
July 20, 2017
NEW YORK – U.S. stock indexes essentially hit the snooze bar Thursday as investors were relieved the European Central Bank didn’t announce any changes to its stimulus policies.
Europe’s central bank maintained its current policies and ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank hasn’t even set a date for considering changes. Investors were startled a month ago when he spoke about scaling back the stimulus program.
On an up-and-down day of trading, second-quarter results moved other stocks: health care companies including Abbott Laboratories climbed and paint, trucking and railroad companies fell.
Sears announced an online appliance sales pact with Amazon.com, and appliance makers and home improvement stores dropped. But overall the market hardly budged. While stocks have been setting record highs for most of 2017, including Wednesday, the market is having its quietest year in decades.
“There’s the belief that the Fed and the ECB are backstopping markets and if something bad were to happen, they would increase accommodation,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management. “If you throw a bunch of money at a problem, typically risk moves lower and people feel more confidence.”
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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped at the finish and lost 0.38 points to 2,473.45. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.97 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,611.78. The Nasdaq composite rose 4.96 points, or 0.1 percent, to a record high of 6,390. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 0.58 points to 1,442.35, also a record.
The S&P 500 has only had four moves of 1 percent or greater this year. In a typical year that happens more than 50 times.
Abbott Laboratories, which makes infant formula, drugs and medical devices, gained $1.42, or 2.9 percent, to $50.85 after reporting results that were better than expected. Health care products giant Johnson & Johnson rose $1.36, or 1 percent, to $136.57 and drugmaker AbbVie, which split from Abbott in 2013, added $1.24, or 1.7 percent, to $74.01.
Paint and coatings maker PPG Industries fell after it reported weaker-than-expected sales. PPG said higher raw materials costs hurt its results and so did unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates. Its shares gave up $6.88, or 6.1 percent, to $106.72.
Competitor Sherwin-Williams had a weak second quarter. It also pointed to rising costs as well as lower exterior paint sales. The stock lost $8.94, or 2.5 percent, to $350.78.
The European Central Bank didn’t make any big moves, and ECB President Mario Draghi stressed that it has not set a date for considering any changes to its stimulus policies.