All three major indexes book monthly gains
The Dow industrials finished at an all-time high on Monday, but the broader market's gains were hobbled by losses in the technology sector.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 60.81 points, or 0.3%, to close at 21,891.12, pulling back from its best levels after hitting an intraday record earlier in the session at 21,929.80.
The S&P 500 index rose 1.80 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,470.30, with financials advancing 0.6% and energy gaining 0.2% to help lead the benchmark's 11 sectors; meanwhile, tech and materials traded at least 0.5% lower to top the worst performers.
The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index fell 26.55 points, or 0.4%, to 6,348.12.
Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist at Capital Securities Management, said upbeat earnings from Dow-component Chevron Corp. (CVX) and signs of strength in the housing market bolstered those sectors.
"I had a miserable July but today everything that I own is up," said Engelke, referring to the energy and financials sectors. He said overly bearish sentiment in the energy sector has put it in prime position to rally, with banks also supported by a healthy economic outlook.
For the month, the Dow registered a 2.5% return, while the S&P ended up 1.9% and the Nasdaq climbed 3.4% in July. The Nasdaq, which lost ground in June, has post eight positive months out of the past nine.
Among the slumping tech sector's worst performers were Facebook Inc. (FB), down 1.9%, while Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL)(GOOGL) closed off 1.2%. Among other internet names, Amazon.com(AMZN) finished down 3.2%, while Netflix Inc. (NFLX) wrapped with a decline of 1.3%.
Apple Inc. (AAPL) may have sway on how the rest of the week plays out for tech stocks, and may be the larger market, with the iPhone maker due to report results Tuesday.
Bill Stone, global chief investment strategist, at PNC Asset Management Group, said there were no apparent catalysts for the decline in the tech sector and speculated that market participants may be altering their holdings ahead of the end of the month.
"I think that there may be some portfolio repositioning at month-end because it is hard to put real fundamental data to [Monday's moves]," Stone said.
Investors may be "standing on the sidelines," until Apple reports, he said.
See also:A quarter of S&P 500's 2017 climb due to five stocks (yes, those five) (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-quarter-of-sp-500s-2017-climb-due-to-five-stocks-yes-those-five-2017-07-27)
Investors also had one eye trained on White House drama, as Anthony Scaramucci left the post of White House communications director (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/anthony-scaramucci-ousted-as-white-house-communications-director-2017-07-31-151031643) just 10 days after being named to the role.
Upheaval in the White House, including changes to President Donald Trump's administration, and the failure of Senate Republicans to push through a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, has been viewed as a proxy for the president's likelihood of getting an array of pro-business policies passed on Capitol Hill.
Read:Apple earnings: How long will iPhone sales be on 'pause'? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-earnings-how-long-will-iphone-sales-be-on-pause-2017-07-31)
In the latest economic data, the Chicago purchasing managers index fell to 58.9 in July from 65.7 in the previous month. Separately, pending-home sales rose 1.5% in June (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pending-home-sales-snap-three-month-losing-streak-with-15-gain-in-june-2017-07-31), snapping a three-month streak of declines.
See:Ignoring Washington chaos, companies likely kept up strong hiring in July (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ignoring-washington-chaos-companies-likely-kept-up-strong-hiring-in-july-2017-07-30)
China data: European mining stocks rose after data from China, a big buyer of industrial and precious metals, showed construction activity at its highest level since December 2013. But China manufacturing activity fell more than expected (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chinas-pmi-numbers-fall-slightly-in-july-2017-07-30) in July, which hinted of a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.
Read:Can China make the reflation trade great again? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/can-china-make-the-reflation-trade-great-again-2017-07-28)
Gold prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-slips-but-move-barely-dents-solid-july-performance-2017-07-31) settled slightly lower, but industrial metal copper rose 0.5% to $2.89 a pound.
Stocks to watch: Shares of Snapchat-parent Snap Inc.(SNAP) retreated 1%, as a so-called lockup period, where some investors and employees will now be allowed to sell shares, expires Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/can-snap-fall-even-more-as-lockups-expire-2017-07-26).
Dynavax Technologies Corp. (DVAX) surged 71.4% after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee said the safety data for its hepatitis B vaccination supported its approval (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dynavax-shares-skyrocket-nearly-90-after-fda-advisory-committee-vote-2017-07-31).
Shares of Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.(SNI) rose 0.6% after Discovery Communications Inc.(DISCK)(DISCK) said it would buy the owner of HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel among others (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/discovery-to-buy-scripps-in-deal-valued-at-146-billion-including-debt-2017-07-31). Shares of Discovery Communications fell more than 7.4%.
Shares of Tesla(TSLA) fell 3.5%. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk detailed the price of the Model 3 at a launch party on Friday evening, when he said reservations for the new model stood at more than 500,000 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-gets-the-35000-tesla-model-3-price-tag-he-wanted-but-extras-cost-more-2017-07-29). Tesla will report quarterly earnings on Wednesday; the stock has gained nearly 60% thus far this year.
Other markets: Oil futures settled above $50 a barrel. The U.S. stepped up sanctions against Venezuela--a major exporter of oil to the U.S. and a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. In a referendum over the weekend, President Nicolás Maduro's government claimed it has won (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/maduro-claims-victory-in-violent-venezuela-vote-but-count-is-disputed-2017-07-31) overwhelming powers to redraft Venezuela's constitution.
See:How Venezuela chaos could spark oil rally OPEC has failed to achieve (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-venezuela-could-spark-the-oil-rally-opec-has-failed-to-achieve-2017-07-26)
European stock markets ended lower Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-gain-as-miners-strengthen-inflation-data-on-tap-2017-07-31), with the Stoxx Europe 600 index booking a lackluster July finish, off 0.1% on the day. In Asia, stocks finished the day and month of July mostly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-stocks-slip-to-end-mostly-positive-month-2017-07-30). The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index rose 6% for the month.
Now read:The stock market has about 12 mini flash crashes a day--and we can't prevent them (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-stock-market-has-about-12-mini-flash-crashes-a-day-and-we-cant-prevent-them-2017-07-31)
--Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this article
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 31, 2017 16:52 ET (20:52 GMT)