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Indexes Inch Higher but Facebook Sinks Again; Oracle Plunges

Indexes Inch Higher but Facebook Sinks Again; Oracle Plunges
Traders Tommy Kalikas, left, and Greg Mulligan confer on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo: AP/Richard Drew)

Tuesday, 20 March 2018 04:01 PM

U.S. stocks are mixed Tuesday as retailers move up and energy companies climb along with oil prices. Facebook is dropping again following reports that the Federal Trade Commission will investigate its handling of user data and Oracle is plunging after releasing disappointing results and forecasts. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday and banks are rising along with bond yields.

KEEPING SCORE: After a drop of 1.4 percent Monday, the S&P 500 index rose 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,717 as of 3:40 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 128 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,739. The Nasdaq composite rose 21 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,365. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was unchanged at 1,571.

More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

REBOUNDING: Amazon recovered $37.56, or 2.4 percent, to $1,582.49 and Best Buy picked up $1.55, or 2.3 percent, to $70.08 after they dropped Monday. Industrial companies including Caterpillar recovered much of their losses as well. Some major technology companies including Apple, Microsoft and Nvidia moved higher after significant drops a day ago.

FACEBOOK FALLS FURTHER: Facebook continued to skid as investors tried to assess the fallout from reports that Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm working for President Donald Trump's campaign, improperly obtained data on 50 million Facebook users without their permission. The company faces investigations in the U.K. and the U.S. According to reports, the Federal Trade Commission will investigate Facebook's handling of user data and whether it violated the terms of a 2011 agreement with the agency.

Facebook stock lost $5.52, or 3.2 percent, to $167.04. Its stock is down almost 10 percent in the last two days. That's its worst drop in two years, and it knocked Facebook from its perch as the fifth most valuable publicly traded company in the U.S. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, which owns insurance companies and railroads among many others, moved ahead of Facebook.

Other social media companies also sank: after sharp losses Monday, Twitter plunged $3.54, or 10.1 percent, to $31.44 and Snap lost 77 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $15.95. Alphabet, which fell 3 percent Monday, lost another $3.39 to $1,096.68.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.34, or 2.2 percent, to $63.40 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.37, or 2.1 percent, to $67.42 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline gained 4 cents to $1.97 a gallon. Heating oil added 4 cents to $1.95 a gallon. Natural gas picked up 2 cents to $2.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Among energy companies, Chevron gained 78 cents to $114.67 and Halliburton added 82 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $45.50.

FED AHEAD: The Federal Reserve's leaders began a two-day policy meeting that is expected to result in another interest rate increase on Wednesday. The Fed has said it expects to raise interest rates a total of three times this year, and one of the key debates on Wall Street is whether it will wind up increasing rates three times or four. The current meeting is the Fed's first since Jerome Powell became chairman, and investors will be watching his comments at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.87 percent from 2.85 percent. That sent interest rates higher, which allows banks to charge more money on loans.

Lincoln National advanced 89 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $76.69. Insurer AIG climbed $1.34, or 2.5 percent, to $55.79 and Aflac picked up 76 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $45.46. Companies that pay large dividends, including phone and utility companies, moved lower. Those stocks are somewhat similar to bonds, and investors often buy them stocks when bond yields are decreasing but sell them when yields rise.

CLOUDY VISIONS: Investors were disappointed with Oracle's third-quarter report. While the company announced a bigger profit than analysts expected, they were less impressed once items like lower tax rates and stock repurchases were excluded, and its sales were lower than Wall Street had forecast. The company's forecast for the fourth quarter also came up short of estimates. The stock dropped $4.96, or 9.5 percent, to $46.99.

METALS: Gold fell $5.90 to $1,311.90 an ounce. Silver fell 14 cents to $16.19 an ounce. Copper lost 4 cents to $3.04 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 106.46 yen from 105.97 yen. The euro fell to $1.2253 from $1.2357.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX added 0.7 percent and the CAC 40 in France gained 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 closed 0.3 percent higher. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 percent while South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.4 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.1 percent.

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U.S. stocks are mixed Tuesday as retailers move up and energy companies climb along with oil prices. Facebook is dropping again following reports that the Federal Trade Commission will investigate its handling of user data and Oracle is plunging after releasing...
markets, stocks, facebook, oracle
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2018-01-20
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 04:01 PM
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