The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 15, 2013

Stocks edge higher, extending a hot start to July


From The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Boeing helped the stock market edge higher Monday, extending a scorching start to July.

The plane maker’s stock was one of the standouts as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index moved higher for an eighth straight day, putting it on track for its longest streak of gains since January.

Boeing gained $3.47, or 3.4 percent, to $104.60 after it was found the plane’s batteries were not the cause of a fire on one of its 787 aircraft at London’s Heathrow airport Friday. Earlier this year, smoldering batteries on two 787s caused the plane to be grounded for more than three months.

Stocks rose to record levels last week after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank would not ease its stimulus before the economy was ready. The central banker’s comments also stemmed a rise in Treasury yields.

“The general bias to the market is up,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds. “You can see a clear path to economic growth in the United States.”

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 29 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,494 as of 2:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose three points, also 0.2 percent, to 1,683. The S&P is up 4.8 percent so far in July, putting it on track to surpass the 5 percent gain it had in January.

The Nasdaq composite rose eight points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,608.

Small-company stocks had the biggest gains Monday. The Russell 2000 rose six points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,042, bringing its gains for the year to 22.7 percent. That’s far ahead of the S&P’s gain of 18 percent.

Investors will be listening to comments from Bernanke again this week for more clues about the central bank’s outlook for the economy. The Fed chairman will give his semi-annual testimony to Congress on Wednesday. The central bank is currently buying $85 billion of bonds a month to keep interest rates low and to encourage borrowing and hiring.

The pace of companies reporting earnings will also increase this week.

“We expect modest earnings gains and we expect that management teams will guide for a cautiously optimistic view in the second half,” said Jim Russell, a regional investment director at US Bank.

Earnings for the second quarter will rise by an average 3.2 percent for S&P 500 companies from a year ago, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Earnings at financial companies are expected to rise by 18.8 percent, the most of any industry group.

Citigroup gained Monday, leading other bank stocks higher, after reporting earnings that beat analysts’ expectations for the second quarter as investment banking profits surged. The bank’s stock rose $1.04, or 2.1 percent, to $51.86.

A closely watched report on U.S. retail sales Monday morning had some disappointments for investors. Americans spent more at retail businesses in June, buying more cars and trucks, furniture and clothes, but they cut back on many other purchases, a mixed sign for economic growth. Retail sales rose just 0.4 percent from May, less than analysts had forecast and less than the 0.5 percent increase the previous month.

The market’s advance was held back by news that economic growth in China, the second-biggest economy in the world, fell to the lowest since 1991, hurt by weak trade and efforts to cool a credit boom. China’s economy expanded at an annual rate of 7.5 percent in the second quarter, down from 7.7 percent in the same period a year earlier.

Slowing global growth is one of the biggest threats to this year’s stock rally, said Uri Landesman, President of Platinum Partners. He predicts that stocks may be poised to slump as much as 15 percent in the coming months. Landesman said this year’s market advance overstates the outlook for the economy.  

“Most of the world’s economies are sucking wind,” Landesman said. “It’s going to be very difficult to keep (the U.S. economy) going with weak exports.”

In commodities trading, the price of oil rose 33 cents to $106.29 a barrel. Gold rose $5.90, or 0.5 percent, to $1,283.50 an ounce. The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.

In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.56 percent from 2.58 percent Friday.  

Among other stocks making big moves, Leap Wireless soared $9.10, or 114 percent, to $17.08 after the carrier agreed to be acquired by AT&T for $1.19 billion, or $15 a share. The deal was announced late Friday. AT&T fell 28 cents, or 0.8 percent, $35.53.