Wall St drifts on mixed earnings, utilities drop
NEW YORK - U.S. stocks were little changed in volatile trading Monday as earnings, including those of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, were partly offset by drops in high-yielding dividend stocks in the utilities sector.
The S&P 500 fell 2.7 percent last week, its biggest percentage drop since the week through June 1, 2012. Despite the sharp decline, the benchmark's technical picture was still bullish, analysts said.
The bailout of Portugal's largest listed lender, Banco Espirito Santo, supported bank shares. Lisbon agreed to rescue BES with a $6.6 billion bailout.
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc said late Friday second-quarter profit soared 41 percent to a record high due to substantial investment gains and improved results in manufacturing, service and retail businesses. The company's class B shares gained 1.4 percent to $127.57.
"Fundamentally, earnings season has been OK, but the recent pace of increases (in the market) can't continue forever," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"Portugal was a net positive," he said, but "we may pause at this level unless next quarter can produce the kind of top line growth associated with a better recovery."
He said there's still underlying support for stocks, including the "lack of alternatives to investors" in other assets.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19.52 points or 0.12 percent, to 16,473.85, the S&P 500 gained 0.43 points or 0.02 percent, to 1,925.58 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.20 points or 0.21 percent, to 4,361.84.
Utilities were the worst performing of the S&P's 10 industry sectors, down 2 percent. At its session low on Monday, the index was down 8.8 percent from its intraday record high set June 30.
Shares of Michael Kors tumbled 6.9 percent to $76.19. Shares had risen more than 10 percent before the bell following results, but quickly reversed as the company said it expects margins to shrink for the year.
Amgen said a late-stage study found that its blood cancer drug helped patients live significantly longer without the disease worsening, compared with standard treatment. Amgen shares gained 1 percent to $126.81.
Hotel, energy and financial services conglomerate Loews Corp posted a 57 percent drop in quarterly profit on lower earnings from Diamond Offshore Drilling. Loews shares slipped 0.5 percent to $42.02 while Diamond fell 1.2 percent to $45.87.
Diamond was downgraded and its price target was cut by Deutsche Bank, alongside similar bearish calls on Ocean Rig , Seadrill, Rowan Cos and others in the sector. The S&P oil and gas drilling index fell 1.1 percent.