Apple leads tech higher as stocks recover from an early loss

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks clawed back early losses Tuesday as Apple led a rally in technology companies. Smaller, more domestically-focused companies also climbed. The late push offset a slump in household goods makers and industrial companies.

Stocks fell in the early going as investors focused on trade tensions, a drop in construction, and weaker growth in manufacturing. Steel makers lost ground after the White House said it will delay its decision to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico for 30 days. The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 354 points, then recovered much of that loss and closed down 64.

Amazon and other retailers rose, while banks and health care companies wiped out early losses to finish slightly higher.

Randy Frederick, vice-president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, said the that even though companies are reporting great first-quarter results, the market isn’t reacting very much. He thinks some people don’t want to invest because the market has gone through such huge swings over the last three months.

“It’s been the best earnings season we’ve had in 10 years,” he said. “People are starting to sit out. And part of the reason they’re sitting out is we’re having such high volatility.”

The S&P 500 index rose 6.75 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,654.80. The Dow slipped 64.10 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 24,099.05 as Boeing fell along with other industrial companies and McDonald’s gave back some of the previous day’s gain.

Technology companies surged, sending the Nasdaq composite up 64.44 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 7,130.55. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 8.44 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 1,550.33.

Apple climbed 2.3 per cent to $169.10 in regular trading. Its stock rose 4 per cent in aftermarket trading after the company’s fiscal second quarter profit surpassed Wall Street’s expectations, as did its sales forecast for the current quarter. The company also raised its dividend and said it will buy back $100 billion in stock.

Apple, the most valuable publicly traded U.S. company, has lagged behind peers like Microsoft and Intel as investors worried about the possibility of slowing iPhone sales.

Intel added 3.3 per cent to $53.33 and video game maker Electronic Arts rose 1.6 per cent to $119.83.

Electronic storage company Seagate Technology plunged 6.4 per cent to $54.21 after its fiscal third-quarter report. The stock is still up almost 30 per cent this year.

The administration’s delay in imposing tariffs sidesteps a potential trade battle with Europe for now, but European Union leaders want a permanent exemption and say the uncertainty caused by delays is bad for business. The announcement comes ahead of the trade talks between U.S. and China later this week.

Industrial companies struggled. Boeing fell 1.2 per cent to $329.54 and engine maker Cummins tumbled 4.1 per cent to $153.28 after its first-quarter report. Lockheed Martin sagged 3.9 per cent to $308.46 as defence contractors continued to struggle.

U.S. manufacturing kept growing in April, but it did so at a slower pace, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers. Many factories said shortages of workers and skills affected their productivity. Meanwhile the Commerce Department said construction spending fell in March as home building dropped sharply.

Frederick, of Charles Schwab, said investors haven’t had to deal with a lot of weak economic data in the last year.

“That’s something the market is kind of not used to,” he said.

After Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is developing its own dating feature, shares of Match Group tumbled. The operator of dating apps including Match, OKCupid and Tinder plunged 22.1 per cent to $36.71 and its biggest investor and former parent company, IAC/InteractiveCorp, lost 17.8 per cent to $133.33.

Pfizer slumped as its first-quarter sales fell short of estimates. The maker of pain medicine Lyrica and the blockbuster Prevnar 13 vaccine against pneumococcal infections said sales of older medicines slipped and its stock lost 3.3 per cent to $35.40.

Tapestry, Coach’s parent company, lost 11.7 per cent to $47.46 as its Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands had a weak first quarter.

Commodities prices fell as the dollar grew stronger. Oil prices gave up some of their recent gains. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 1.9 per cent to $67.25 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, declined 2.1 per cent to $73.13 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline lost 2 per cent to $2.09 a gallon and heating oil fell 2.3 per cent to $2.10 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.4 per cent to $2.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell 0.9 per cent to $1,306.80 an ounce and silver lost 1.7 per cent to $16.13 an ounce. Copper dipped 1.2 per cent to $3.04 a pound.

Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.97 per cent from 2.96 per cent. The 10-year yield hit a four-year high last week.

The dollar rose to 109.81 yen from 109.29 yen. The euro fell to $1.1993 from 1.2082.

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 per cent and the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 per cent. Markets in France and Germany, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and most cities in Southeast Asia were closed for public holidays.

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