Stocks

US STOCKS-Wall Street flat as tech boost offset by lower oil prices

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* Ultimate Software jumps on $11 bln buyout deal

* Alphabet rises ahead of results skedded after-market

* Data shows surprise fall in Nov factory orders

* Dow dips 0.26 pct, S&P off 0.21 pct, Nasdaq up 0.22 pct (Updates to open)

By Medha Singh

Feb 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks treaded water on Monday as atech boost was offset by declines in energy companies, asinvestors wait for Alphabet's results after the bell followingmixed earnings from other FAANG stocks.

However, a more than 1 percent rise from marquee companiessuch as Alphabet IncGOOGL.O , Apple IncAAPL.O and MicrosoftCorp MSFT.O boosted the Nasdaq. The technology sector rose0.67 percent.

Apple and Facebook IncFB.O posted better-than-expectedquarterly results last week, while Netflix IncNFLX.O andAmazon.com Inc AMZN.O gave downbeat current-quarter forecasts.

The energy sector .SPNY fell 0.84 percent, the most amongthe 7 major S&P sectors trading in the red, as oil prices fellmore than 1 percent. O/R

Still, indexes were near their two-month highs, as recentsigns of progress in U.S.-China trade talks and the FederalReserve's signal of slowing down rate hikes gave relief toinvestors who have fretted over growth.

"We are set for a breather week," said Michael Antonelli,managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W.Baird in Milwaukee.

"We've got the real big February catalyst out of the way andthat was the Fed meeting, now we're looking for what the rest ofthe earnings has."

A nonfarm payrolls report on Friday showed U.S. job growthsurged the most in 11 months in January. Though concernsremained that a slowdown in the rest of the world could hurtU.S. earnings, with warnings from bellwethers includingCaterpillar Inc CAT.N .

Nearly half of the S&P 500 companies that have reportedfourth-quarter earnings so far, 71.4 percent beat analysts'estimates, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Since earnings kicked off three weeks ago, estimates forfourth-quarter profit growth have risen to 15.4 percent from14.3 percent, but forecast for 2019 earnings growth fell to 4.9percent from 6.3 percent.

At 10:03 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI wasdown 65.77 points, or 0.26 percent, at 24,998.12, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 5.73 points, or 0.21 percent, at 2,700.80 andthe Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 16.07 points, or 0.22percent, at 7,279.94.

Weighing on sentiment was data which showed new orders forU.S.-made goods unexpectedly fell in November amid sharpdeclines in demand for machinery and electricalequipment. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nEMNICV0ZI

Gilead Sciences IncGILD.O declined 0.8 percent ahead ofits fourth-quarter earnings expected after the bell.

Allergan PlcAGN.N dropped 1.9 percent after the FDAapproved Evolus Inc'sEOLS.O cheaper version of blockbusterBotox. Evolus soared 16 percent.

The losses pulled the healthcare sector .SPXHC 0.71percent lower.

In a bright spot, Ultimate Software Group IncULTI.O surged 19.6 percent after the HR software provider agreed to bebought by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman in a $11billion deal. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1ZZ2RC

Last week the U.S. central bank in a sharp reversal ofstance from six weeks ago, pledged to be patient with furtherinterest rate hikes. In light of this, Fed Chairman JeromePowell's speech on Wednesday will be closely watched.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.67-to-1 ratioon the NYSE and a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded six new 52-week highs and no newlows, while the Nasdaq recorded 32 new highs and seven new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; additional reporting byAmy Caren Daniel; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta) ((Medha.Singh@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1646 223 8780,outside U.S. +91 80 6749 1130; Reuters Messaging:medha.singh.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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