Market Wrap: Stocks End Higher After Bounce in Oil Prices

Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP

By Noel Randewich

NEW YORK -- The Dow and S&P 500 ended higher Tuesday, helped by energy stocks and March-quarter earnings reports that topped modest expectations following worries about a strong dollar.

Shares of Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other energy companies followed crude higher after a forecast that U.S. shale oil output in May would record its first monthly decline in more than four years. The S&P 500 energy index jumped 1.77 percent.

Norfolk Southern (NSC) dropped 4.18 percent to $100.49 a day after it forecast a surprise drop in its first-quarter earnings and revenue.

A strong dollar, cheap oil and poor weather in the eastern United States in recent months have investors bracing for a difficult March-quarter earnings season.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-This may be one of most hated earnings seasons I remember.%First-quarter profits for S&P 500 companies are seen falling 2.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data. On Jan. 1, analysts had been looking for growth of 5.3 percent.

Those lowered expectations mean that companies can now more easily impress investors, said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

"This may be one of most hated earnings seasons I remember," Hogan said. "We've taken those three negative headwinds and plowed them as far as we can into the worst-case scenario."

Shares of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) rose 1.6 percent after the biggest U.S. bank by assets reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 59.66 points, or 0.33 percent, to end at 18,036.7. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) 500 gained 3.41 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,095.84 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 10.96 points, or 0.22 percent, to 4,977.29, with Apple down 0.43 percent.

Chevron (CVX) shares gained 2.2 percent and Exxon (XOM) rose 1.5 percent.

Nokia Oyj is in talks to buy Alcatel-Lucent, a deal that would combine the telecommunications industry's two weakest players.

U.S. shares of Nokia (NOK) fell 4.09 percent to $7.96 while Alcatel (ALU) rose 13.33 percent to $4.93.

Earnings Season

Companies expected to report this week include GE (GE), Philip Morris International (PM) and Bank of America (BAC).

The dollar was down 0.7 percent against a basket of major currencies, leaving it with a gain of nearly 10 percent so far in 2015. A stronger dollar tends to hurt profits for U.S. multinationals.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,910 to 1,120, for a 1.71-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,426 issues fell, and 1,289 advanced for a 1.11-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark S&P 500 posted 5 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq composite was recording 74 new highs and 32 new lows.

About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.1 billion daily average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Market

What to watch Wednesday:

  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York releases its survey of manufacturing conditions in New York state at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

  • The Federal Reserve releases industrial production for March at 9:15 a.m.

  • The National Association of Home Builders releases housing market index for April at 10 a.m.

  • The Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book survey of regional economic conditions at 2 p.m.

  • The Treasury Department releases international money flows data for February at 4 p.m.

Earnings Season
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:

  • Bank of America (BAC)

  • Kinder Morgan (KMI)

  • U.S. Bancorp (USB)

  • PNC Financial Services Group (PNC)

  • Delta Air Lines (DAL)

  • Netflix (NFLX)

  • Progressive (PGR)

  • SanDisk (SNDK)

  • Watsco (WSO)