U.S. stock indexes wavered between tiny gains and losses in late-afternoon trading Tuesday. Health care stocks were among the biggest gainers, while airlines, cruise companies and travel booking sites lagged following the deadly attacks in Belgium. Oil closed higher.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 26 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,596 as of 3:20 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed less than one point to 2,051. The Nasdaq composite added 14 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,823. The stock market is coming off a four-day winning streak.
THE QUOTE: “What happens is investors and traders go in and start to bottom-fish on sectors that have sold off,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “It flies in the face of the headlines and the human cost of these terrorist attacks, but the stock markets tend to turn around.”
BRUSSELS ATTACKS: At least 31 people were killed on Tuesday when bombs struck the Brussels airport and one of the city’s metro stations. Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level. Airports across Europe tightened security. Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent, while the CAC-40 in France edged up 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.1 percent. Belgium’s BEL 20 index rose 0.2 percent.
STAYING PUT: Several travel-related companies fell as investors weighed the potential fallout from the Belgium attacks. Royal Caribbean Cruises shed $2.18, or 2.8 percent, to $76.05, while Carnival lost 98 cents, or 2 percent, to $48.80. American Airlines Group fell 67 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $42.80. Delta Air Lines fell 66 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $49.46. Priceline Group slid $31.34, or 2.3 percent, to $1,319.17, while Expedia fell $2.26, or 2 percent, to $108.62.
THE QUOTE: “The only sector that appears to be truly suffering, naturally, is anything having to do with travel,” said J.J. Kinahan, TD Ameritrade’s chief strategist. “And even many of those have recovered from earlier levels.”
DRILL BITTEN: Transocean shed 44 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $10.09 after management said they don’t expect drilling to increase any time soon. The outlook also weighed on other drilling companies. Ensco lost 25 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $11.08, while Helmerich & Payne slid 87 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $60.11.
ROUGH QUARTER: Clothing and accessories maker G-III Apparel Group slid 19.4 percent after it reported earnings and sales that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The stock lost $10.72 to $44.51.
LUMPY RESULTS: Mattress Firm dropped 9 percent after the bedding retailer also reported weak fourth-quarter results and forecast a smaller-than-expected annual profit. The stock shed $3.86 to $38.83.
STRONG OUTLOOK: Akorn surged 40.4 percent after the generic drugmaker reported preliminary 2015 financial results and gave a strong profit forecast for this year. The stock gained $7.56 to $26.28.
BOUNCE BACK: Staples climbed 7.7 percent, recovering some of its losses from a day earlier, when a court battle over the office supply chain’s proposed merger with Office Depot began. The stock added 74 cents to $10.31.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 1.9 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed early gains, sliding 0.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.4 percent, while Australia’s S&P ASX 200 edged up 0.1 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 7 cents to close at $41.45 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, rose 25 cents to $41.79 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 4 cents, or 2.6 percent, to close at $1.50 a gallon, while heating rose a penny to close at $1.25 a gallon. Natural gas added 4 cents, or 1.9 percent, to close at $1.86 per 1,000 cubic feet.
METALS: Gold rose $4.40, or 0.4 percent, to $1,248.60 an ounce. Silver gained 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $15.89 an ounce. Copper was little changed at $2.29 a pound.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.94 percent from 1.92 percent late Monday. The euro fell to $1.1216 from $1.1251, while the dollar rose to 112.33 yen from 111.86.