Stocks Waver As Tech Firms Rise; Household Goods Makers Slip

AP Photo/Richard Drew


NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are mostly higher Tuesday as a jump in metals prices helps mining and basic materials companies. Industrial and technology companies are also up. Health care and household goods makers are trading lower.

Stocks have gyrated over the last few days as investors continue to look for hints about how the Trump administration's planned tariffs on steel and aluminum will affect international trade. Asian stock indexes jumped after the North Korean government said it was open to talks with the U.S. about ending its nuclear program.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,724 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 12 point to 24,862. Earlier it fell as much as 166 points .The Nasdaq composite rose 23 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,354. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 8 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,554.

TRADE WINDS: Stocks fell 3.7 percent during a three-day losing streak last week after President Donald Trump announced plans for steep tariffs on steel and aluminum. Other countries and the European Union announced plans to put tariffs on some U.S.-made goods including bourbon and motorcycles. Investors feared that was the start of a conflict that would restrict trade and cut company profits.

Since then the market has bounced around as investors hoped that a full-blown global trade war won't break out. House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke up against the proposed tariffs Tuesday and called for a "more surgical approach" that might cause less backlash. After initially suggesting there would be no exceptions to the tariffs, Trump said he could grant exemptions to Canada and Mexico if they come to terms on a new trade deal.

KOREAN TALKS? Asian markets climbed after North Korea said it is willing to start talks with the U.S. on denuclearization. It also said it would stop nuclear and missile tests during those discussions. The Kospi in Seoul jumped 1.5 percent while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 1.8 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 2.1 percent.

OFF TARGET: Target lost $4.09, or 5.4 percent, to $71.05 after it reported that costs associated with overhauling its stores and investing in its website affected its earnings and its forecasts for the current year. Target also said it is raising minimum starting pay for workers for the second time in less than a year after seeing a bigger and better pool of candidates.

BOARD BATTLE: Qualcomm fell and Broadcom rose after Bloomberg News reported that Broadcom is on track to get more leverage in its effort to buy Qualcomm, which wants Broadcom to make a richer offer. Bloomberg reported that so far, directors backed by Broadcom are on pace to win six seats on Qualcomm's board. Qualcomm's current board opposes Broadcom's $117 billion bid for the company and says the price is too low, while a board supported by Broadcom would likely accept the offer instead.

Both stocks fell Monday after U.S. regulators said they would look into the deal. On Tuesday Qualcomm gave up $2.45, or 3.8 percent, to $61.56 and Broadcom added $1.93 to $248.91.

METALS: Gold rose $15.30, or 1.2 percent, to $1,335.20 an ounce. Silver climbed 37 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $16.78 an ounce. Copper added 3 cents to $3.16 a pound.

FAMILY FEUD: Nordstrom declined 15 cents to $51.75 after the department store rejected an offer from the Nordstrom family to take it private. It said the price of $50 a share was too low, and it was beneath the stocks' closing price on Monday. The family group includes co-presidents Blake, Peter and Erik Nordstrom. They and other family members own 30 percent of Nordstrom's stock.

JAMMED UP: J.M. Smucker lost 36 cents to $129.66 after the Federal Trade Commission moved to block its purchase of the Wesson oil brand. It said the purchase could create a monopoly in the canola and vegetable oil markets because Smucker already owns the Crisco brand. Wesson's owner, Conagra, rose 1 cent to $37.80, and the companies said they will review the complaint and consider their options.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.88 percent.

EUROPE: Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent and London's FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent. France's CAC 40 added 0.1 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 1 cent to $62.56 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 25 cents to $65.79 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 106.19 yen from 106.20 yen. The euro rose to $1.2398 from $1.2327.

-by AP reporter Marley Jay


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