U.S. Stocks On Track for Monthly Gains

By Riva Gold and Alexander Osipovich Features Dow Jones Newswires

S&P 500, Dow, Nasdaq on track for monthly gains

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-- Tech sector retreats, weighing on Nasdaq

-- Weak dollar hits European and Japanese markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was on pace for a fresh record Monday, ending July on an upbeat note as strong corporate earnings helped put major U.S. indexes on track for monthly gains.

The Dow industrials gained 85 points, or 0.4%, to 21915 in late-afternoon trading. The S&P 500 was little changed, while the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.3%, dragged down by a decline in technology stocks.

Facebook fell 1.5% after hitting a record high last week and Alphabet, the parent of Google, was down 1.3% in recent trading. Tech stocks in the S&P 500 fell 0.4%.

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Still, the Nasdaq is on track to end July around 3.5% higher. The Dow is up about 2.6% for the month, while the S&P has gained about 2%.

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 were up more than 5% on Monday, among the best performers in the S&P 500, after it said it wasn't interested in acquiring Sprint. Shares of Discovery Communications fell around 9% 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.

In government bonds, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was little changed at 2.294%, according to Tradeweb, compared with 2.291% on Friday. Yields rise as prices fall.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 31, 2017 16:02 ET (20:02 GMT)