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Stocks stay near record highs

U.S. stocks remained near all-time highs Wednesday as declines in Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple Inc. offset gains among retailers amid corporate earnings.

Hewlett-Packard tumbled 9.9 percent after saying earnings will be hurt by the rising dollar. Apple lost 2.6 percent as technology shares slumped 0.7 percent. Chesapeake Energy dropped 9.6 percent as earnings fell short of analysts’ projections. Dollar Tree Inc. and TJX Cos. added more than 2.1 percent to pace gains among retailers.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell less than 0.1 percent to 2,113.86. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 15.38 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to a record 18,224.57. The Nasdaq Composite lost less than 1 point, ending a 10-day rally that brought the gauge to within 1.6 percent of its 2000 record. About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 9.2 percent below the three-month average.

“We’ve had a great run and we’re still up around the new highs,” Matt Kaufler, the Rochester, New York-based portfolio manager of Federated’s Clover Value Fund, said by telephone. “It’s not uncommon to take a brief pause.”

Stocks rallied on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee that inflation and wage growth remain too low for the central bank to raise rates at its next meeting. She signaled that a change in the Fed’s guidance on interest rates won’t lock it into a timetable for tightening.

Yellen repeated that stance before lawmakers a second day.

The S&P 500 rose last week as minutes from the central bank’s latest meeting showed some policy makers argued for keeping rates low for longer amid risks facing the economy.

Data on Wednesday showed new homes in the U.S. sold at a faster pace than forecast in January, a sign of stabilization in the housing industry.

The S&P 500 has gained 6 percent in February, poised for the best monthly performance since October 2011, while the Dow has added 6.2 percent. Both climbed to records yesterday. The Nasdaq Composite has rallied 7.2 percent, buoyed by gains in Apple, which has the biggest weighting in the index.

Hewlett-Packard slumped 9.9 percent after forecasting quarterly and full-year profit that trailed estimates, saying a rising U.S. dollar will hurt results as the computer maker prepares to split in two.

The shares maintained losses after people with knowledge of the matter said Hewlett-Packard is in talks to acquire Aruba Networks Inc., a maker of wireless-network infrastructure used by hotels, universities and shopping malls. Apple slid 2.6 percent. BlackBerry Ltd. announced a partnership with Google Inc. to allow the search giant’s suite of mobile productivity tools to run on the smartphone maker’s device management system. BlackBerry added 2.3 percent while Google gained 1.5 percent.

The earnings season is drawing to a close, with more than 90 percent having already reported. Of those, 74 percent beat profit projections and 56 percent topped sales estimates.

Analysts predict profit at S&P 500 companies will drop 4.5 percent in the current quarter after a 4.3 percent increase in the final three months of 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. plunged 26 percent, the most since 2011, after Chief Executive Officer Robert Lynch said “60 Minutes” will feature the retailer in an unfavorable light.

The company also disclosed that the U.S. Department of Justice may file criminal charges stemming from an inquiry that began in 2013 for a violation of import laws.