Stocks Edge Lower on Declines in Energy Shares

By Akane Otani and Riva Gold Features Dow Jones Newswires

The S&P 500 edged lower Tuesday, weighed by declines in shares of utilities and energy companies.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 37 points, or 0.2%, to 20976. The S&P 500 fell 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3% after both indexes inched higher Monday to settle at records.

Major stock indexes have risen the past few weeks as stronger-than-expected corporate earnings have helped offset a steep decline in commodity prices. With more than 87% of S&P 500 firms having reported earnings, companies are on track to post their highest proportion of top- and bottom-line beats in 13 years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"There is a strong economic backdrop and robust earnings: That environment is conducive to being invested [in stocks]," said Mouhammed Choukeir, chief investment officer at Kleinwort Hambros.

Data pointing to health in the U.S. economy may partially explain why major indexes have had few large swings in recent weeks, some analysts say. The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of expected turbulence in the S&P 500 over the next 30 days, closed Monday at i ts lowest level since 1993.

"We've waded through a lot of economic and political concerns over the last year and now investors are catching their breath," said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management.

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U.S. crude oil fell 1.2% to $45.88 a barrel on Tuesday, weighing on shares of energy companies. Energy stocks in the S&P 500 -- among the worst performers in the broad index in 2017 -- fell 0.9%, deepening their losses for the year. Utilities stocks also declined 0.9%.

Technology shares in the S&P 500 edged up 0.2%. Shares of Apple, which reached a record close Monday, extended their ascent, rising 0.6% and posting among the biggest gains in the Dow industrials. The company's market value topped $800 billion for the first time.

As stocks rose, government bonds slipped Tuesday, with the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rising to 2.405%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.376% Monday. Yields rise as bond prices fall.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.4%, settling at its highest level since August 2015. Shares of Commerzbank gave a lift to Europe's banking sector after the company reported higher-than-expected profit and revenue in the first quarter.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.5% as underwhelming results from Commonwealth Bank of Australia and reports that the Australian government would introduce a bank tax weighed on shares of lenders.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.3%, supported by a recovery in shares of gambling companies.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average pulled back 0.3% after government data showed Japanese wages fell for the first time since last May.

Kenan Machado contributed to this article.

Write to Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com and Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 09, 2017 16:25 ET (20:25 GMT)