US Stocks close mixed: Dow, S&P rise; Nasdaq drops

New York (Apr 14)  Stocks closed mixed Tuesday as energy stocks rallied on higher oil prices but tech stocks lagged.

The Dow Jones industrial average managed to move back above the 18,000 level as it gained 60 points, or 0.3%, to close at 18,037. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4 points, or 0.2%, to 2096.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 11 points, or 0.2%, to 4977.

Energy stocks got a boost as oil prices rose for a third straight day. Benchmark U.S. crude gained $1.38 to $53.29 a barrel in New York.

Investors were digesting a batch of economic and earnings reports as financial markets confront a mixed picture of where corporate profits are heading.

Analysts are expecting the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index to post its first contraction in quarterly earnings in almost six years when first-quarter profit reports are all tallied up.

Companies reporting earnings Tuesday:

• Wells Fargo reported first-quarter earnings fell to $5.8 billion, or $1.04 per share. The results beat analysts' estimates of 98 cents per share. The bank's shares (WFC) fell 0.7%.

• Going the other direction is fellow banking giant JPMorgan Chase, which reported strong sales and earnings growth despite the drag of persistently low interest rates and ongoing legal expenses tied to government probes. Shares (JPM) jumped 1.6%.

• Dow component Johnson & Johnson's quarterly profit fell 8.6%, hurt by unfavorable exchange rates, a major divestiture and competition to its new hepatitis C drug. JNJ shares dipped 0.03%

Investors also got a look at the latest data on consumers and inflation:

• Retail sales rose in March, the first monthly increase since November, boosted by stronger auto sales. American consumers' increased spending boosted retail sales by a seasonally adjusted 0.9% in February.

• Higher gas costs drove up wholesale prices, ending a string of four straight monthly drops as the producer price index rose 0.2% in March.

The IMF projects the global economy will expand 3.5% this year, thanks in part t\o low oil prices.

Businesses boosted stockpiles a bit. The Commerce Department says stockpiles rose 0.3% in February after no growth in January.

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European shares ended mostly lower, with Britain's FTSE 100 gaining 0.2%, Germany's DAX dropping 0.9% and France's CAC 40 losing 0.7%.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index was flat and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 1.6%, amid a lack of fresh news to buoy market sentiments.

Source: USAtoday