U.S. stocks mustered a slight gain in the final moments of trading on Monday, capping a day of listless action that had the market headed for a downbeat close.
A slide in oil prices hammered energy stocks, including Chevron and Exxon Mobil, which ended up as the biggest decliners in the Dow Jones industrial average. Other commodities also fell, hurt by a strengthening dollar.
Weight Watchers more than doubled on news that Oprah Winfrey is buying a 10 percent stake in the weight management company and will help promote the company’s services.
Investors had their eye on company earnings from Morgan Stanley, Hasbro and others. Both companies tumbled after their results left investors less-than-impressed.
Still, Monday’s sluggish trading suggests many investors were holding off on any big moves until they see a broader slice of companies report third-quarter earnings over the next few days, said David Schiegoleit, managing director of investments at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank.
“A lot of participants are on the sidelines waiting to see those numbers come out and use them as a cue to move forward,” Schiegoleit said. “The big push in earnings season starts today, particularly after the close, and as we head into the rest of the week.”
All told, the Dow rose 14.57 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,230.54. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.55 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,033.66. The Nasdaq composite rose 18.78 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,905.47.
Major stock indexes have closed higher for three days in a row.
Five of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 rose, led by consumer discretionary stocks, which gained 0.5 percent. The sector is up 9 percent this year.
Energy stocks fell the most, 1.9 percent. The sector is down about 15 percent this year, hurt by the slide in oil prices. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.37 on Monday to close at $45.89 a barrel in New York.
Shares in Exxon Mobil fell $1.49, or 1.8 percent, to $80.99, while Chevron slid $1.26, or 1.4 percent, to $90.03.
“Oil has had a tough time getting off the ground and most commodities are down,” said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade’s chief strategist. “Normally you would say it is demand, but because pretty much every commodity is getting hit today. I relate that more to dollar strength.”
The dollar edged up to 119.48 yen and the euro fell to $1.1326.
Investors are tuned into earnings as they hunt for insight into how the global economy is doing.
Roughly 57 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 index report earnings over the next two weeks. That works out to about 117 companies this week, including Verizon Communications, eBay, Caterpillar and Alphabet. Another 170 companies in the S&P 500 report earnings next week.
Morgan Stanley and Hasbro’s latest results put many investors in a selling mood.
Hasbro fell the most among stocks in the S&P 500 after the toy maker reported that sales of girls’ toys and games dropped 28 percent in the third quarter. The stock lost $5.60, or 7.2 percent, to $72.18. Morgan Stanley slumped 4.8 percent after reporting a sharp drop in quarterly earnings as the bank’s bond trading business weakened. The stock fell $1.63 to $32.32.
Weight Watchers surged 105 percent on news that Oprah Winfrey is paying about $43.2 million for a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers and is joining the weight management company’s board. Winfrey also agreed to endorse the company’s programs and services, and to help promote the company. Weight Watchers’ shares climbed $7.13 to $13.92.
Stock markets overseas were mixed. Germany’s DAX rose 0.6 percent, while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.03 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 inched down 0.4 percent. In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost an early gain to end down 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended little changed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.9 percent.
Data released Monday showed that China’s economic growth decelerated in the latest quarter but relatively robust spending by Chinese consumers helped to avert a deeper downturn. The world’s second-largest economy grew by 6.9 percent in the three months ended in September, down from the previous quarter’s 7 percent and the slowest since early 2009 in the aftermath of the global crisis. Growth of 6.8 percent had been forecast by analysts.
In other energy trading, Brent Crude, which is used to price international oils, slid $1.85 to $48.61 a barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline fell 7.7 cents to close at $1.251 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while heating oil fell 4.8 cents to close at $1.449 a gallon. Natural gas edged up 1.2 cents to close at $2.442 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In metals trading, gold fell $10.30 to $1,172.80 an ounce, silver dropped 27 cents to $15.84 an ounce and copper lost four cents to settle at $2.37 a pound.
U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.02 percent.