Stocks move mostly higher on Wall Street
New York • The stock market edged mostly higher Tuesday as investors assessed the health of the economy and company earnings. Spice company McCormick was the biggest gainer in the Standard & Poor's 500 index after reporting earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose one point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,858 as of 12:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,316. The Nasdaq composite fell 14 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,211.
BRUISED CRUISE LINE: Carnival fell $2.19, or 5.5 percent, to $37.81, after the cruise operator swung to a loss in the first quarter, stung by losing bets on the future price of fuel. Carnival's adjusted results and revenue beat analysts' expectations, but the company narrowed its full-year forecast and gave a second-quarter projection below Wall Street's view.
SPICY EARNINGS: McCormick, a purveyor of spices, seasonings and condiments, rose $3.97, or 5.9 percent, to $71.50 after the company reported earnings that beat analysts' estimates. The company also reaffirmed its outlook for the year.
CLOSING UP SHOP: Walgreen rose $1.91, or 3 percent, to $66.22 after the company reported its fiscal second quarter earnings. The company said it plans to close 76 stores in the second half of its fiscal year. That's a big shift from its previous growth strategy, which focused on opening locations to maximize convenience for its customers
CONFLICTING SIGNS: There were conflicting reports on the economy. One report showed that fewer people bought new U.S. homes in February. Sales fell to the slowest pace in five months, a sign that the housing market has yet to recover fully from brutal winter weather, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Meanwhile an index measuring U.S. consumer confidence rose to the highest level in six years, providing a further sign that the economy's prospects should brighten with warmer weather.
THE JURY IS STILL OUT: The stock market has struggled to advance this year after a series of economic reports suggested the economy is slowing. Investors are still not sure as to how much of the weakness should be ascribed to the unusually cold weather and how much to other factors, said Jim Russell, a Cincinnati-based regional investment director at U.S. Bank.
"The debate that's going on is how much of the economic weakness is weather-related and how much is plain, old-fashioned economic weakness," Russell said.
SONIC BOOM: Drive-in restaurant company Sonic jumped $2.17, or 10.4 percent, to $23.07 after posting earnings that exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts. The company reported higher net income in its fiscal second quarter despite the unusually harsh winter weather.
TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note climbed to 2.74 percent from 2.73 percent late Monday. The price of crude oil rose 21 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $99.34 a barrel. Gold rose $1.70, or 0.1 percent, to $1,312.90 an ounce.