April 15, 2024

Stocks Mostly Lower in Late Trading Amid Inflation concerns

The session was on track for the lowest volume of the year after the long Easter weekend, and margin worries kept the Dow and SP from building on the gains seen in last week’s solid earnings.

About 3.7 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq as of midafternoon, below average at this point in the session.

The threat of rising commodity costs was spotlighted by Kimberly-Clark’s decline of 2.9 percent to $64.15 after it cut the low end of its full-year outlook, saying the costs of pulp and other goods were rising more than twice as much as it had expected.

Kimberly, maker of Kleenex tissue, is among companies highly vulnerable to rising commodity costs because its products contain oil-based materials and paper.

“That is largely in my mind being driven by oil prices, but other commodity prices are driving it too,” said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.

Johnson Controls fell 2.5 percent to $39.70 after the company, one of the world’s largest auto suppliers, said its fiscal third-quarter results would be hit by a drop in car production following the earthquake in Japan. Japan’s earthquake has disrupted the supply of auto parts and forced auto companies to idle plants.

Through Monday, 75 percent of the 151 companies in the SP 500 that have reported results have beaten analysts’ expectations. That is just above the average over the last four quarters but well above the average of 62 percent since 1994, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 25.20 points, or 0.20 percent, to 12,480.79. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index shed 1.68 points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,335.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 4.37 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,824.53.

The Nasdaq edged higher, helped by SanDisk, which was up 2.2 percent at $50.06 after raising its 2011 margin outlook late Thursday.

But energy and materials companies’ shares ranked among the worst performers, with the PHLX oil service sector index off 0.9 percent and the SP Materials Index down 0.7 percent. Oil prices fell after crude hit its highest level since September 2008, as investors took profits on a sell off in silver from near record highs.

This week is another hectic one for earnings, including Amazon.com, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Exxon Mobil.

The week’s agenda includes a two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve’s policymaking committee on Tuesday and Wednesday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold the first of four annual press conferences on Wednesday after the Federal Open Market Committee’s meeting ends. Investors will look for clues about the direction of monetary policy when the Fed’s bond buying program ends in June.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=8fa2d92a74d3a0aa4d47a28048642e85

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