Strong Earnings Lift U.S. Stocks to Gains in July

By Riva Gold and Alexander Osipovich Features Dow Jones Newswires

S&P 500, Dow, Nasdaq post monthly gains

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-- Tech sector retreats, weighing on Nasdaq

-- Weak dollar hits European and Japanese markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to a fresh record Monday, with strong corporate earnings helping lift U.S. stocks to gains in July.

The blue-chip index, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite all posted their best month since February, despite a decline in technology stocks on Monday that dragged down the Nasdaq.

The Dow industrials rose 60.81 points, or 0.3%, to 21891.12. The S&P 500 rose 1.80 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2470.30. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 26.55 points, or 0.4%, to 6348.12.

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Facebook fell $3.20, or 1.9%, to $169.25 after hitting a record high last week. Alphabet, the parent of Google, declined $12.83, or 1.3%, to $945.50. Tech stocks in the S&P 500 shed 0.5%.

Still, the Nasdaq ended July 3.4% higher. The Dow was up 2.5% for the month, while the S&P 500 gained 1.9%; both have risen for four consecutive months.

Improved earnings were "the main driver" of July's gains, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. "A lot of other stuff is just noise: the turmoil in D.C., the political events that flare up from time to time," he said.

Of the 58% of S&P 500 constituents that reported second-quarter results through Monday morning, 72% beat analysts' expectations for earnings and sales, according to FactSet.

Upcoming earnings releases include Apple, which is set to report results on Tuesday.

Shares of Charter Communications rose $21.65, or 5.8%, to $391.91, making it the best performer in the S&P 500, after it said it wasn't interested in acquiring Sprint.

Shares of Discovery Communications fell $2.20, or 8.2%, to $24.60 after it agreed to acquire Scripps Networks Interactive.

The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1% to its lowest level since April. European stocks largely stalled in July as the euro strengthened.

The common currency has climbed 2.8% against the U.S. dollar this month through Friday, and was recently up at $1.1832 after data showed the eurozone unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in more than eight years while the annual rate of inflation remained unchanged.

The dollar has also weakened around 1.5% against the Japanese yen this month through Friday, helping send Japan's Nikkei Stock Average to its worst monthly performance since March.

Other major Asian stock markets climbed Monday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.3% amid gains in technology companies and banks, ending the month around 6.1% higher. The index hasn't logged a monthly decline this year, its longest winning streak since 2007.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com and Alexander Osipovich at alexander.osipovich@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 31, 2017 17:32 ET (21:32 GMT)