Wall Street capped a day of mostly sideways trading Monday with a slight gain for the benchmark S&P 500 index, as a spike in crude-oil prices sent energy companies broadly higher.
The S&P 500 wavered between gains and losses for much of the day before eking out a gain of 2.94 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,907.97. The index, which had briefly been down as much as 0.3 percent, is now within 0.8 percent of its record high set in September.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 48.49 points, or 0.2 percent, to 26,511.05. The Nasdaq composite gained 17.21 points, or 0.2 percent, to 8,015.27. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks dropped 5.70 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,560.04.
More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
Energy sector stocks climbed as the price of crude oil hit its highest level since October after the U.S. government moved to further block Iranian oil exports.
Even with the surge in energy stocks, losses in banks, real estate companies and elsewhere in the market led to a mostly lower finish for the major U.S. indexes. Smaller company stocks fell more than the rest of the market.
Homebuilders slumped after a report showing that sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell in March.
Monday's listless day of trading was in line with a relatively calm stretch for the U.S. stock market in recent weeks. The market has been hovering near all-time highs after following up a nearly 20-percent plummet late last year with a nearly mirror-opposite rebound.
Investors are focused on corporate earnings reports coming later this week and new data that will give them a read on how much U.S. economic growth slowed during the first three months of the year.
"This week is a crucial week for the market," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "[Investors] want to hear what these companies are saying in terms of their guidance and that's going to be crucial to see if this market can continue to inch higher."
Bond prices fell Monday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.59 percent from 2.55 percent late Thursday.
Energy futures closed broadly higher. Benchmark U.S. crude surged 2.7 percent to settle at $65.70 per barrel. The leap tacks further gains onto the price of oil, which has been climbing since dropping below $43 in late December. Brent crude rose 2.9 percent to close at $74.04 per barrel.
President Donald Trump's administration said it will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, including China and Japan, the world's second and third largest economies.
Trump made the move with the intent of bringing Iran's oil exports to zero. Reducing Iran's exports could increase demand for oil from U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates but would heighten political tensions.
"The big fear now and perhaps the markets' next significant catalyst, will Iran retaliate with force?" said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management in a report.
The rally in oil prices helped drive energy stocks higher, leading the other 10 sectors in the S&P 500 with a gain of 2.1 percent.
Shares of Marathon Oil climbed 6.6 percent and Exxon Mobil rose 2.2 percent.
Companies reporting quarterly earnings Monday included:
The First Bancshares Inc., the Hattiseburg, Miss.-based bank holding company, a profit of $7.6 million, or 48 cents a share, from $6.9 million, or 48 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue was $38.8 million. Shares fell 66 cents to close Monday at $30.07.
Halliburton Co., a provider of drilling services to oil and gas operators, a profit of $152 million, or 17 cents a share, from $46 million, or 5 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue was $5.74 billion. Shares fell 4 cents to close at $31.09.
Kimberly-Clark Corp., maker of consumer products such as Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissue, a profit of $454 million, or $1.31 a share, from $94 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue was $4.63 billion. Shares rose $6.70 to close at $130.25.
Lennox International Inc., manufacturer of furnaces and air conditioners, a profit of $69.3 million, or $1.73 a share, up from $37.9 million, or 90 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue was $790.3 million. Shares fell $3.01 to close at $267.63.
Business on 04/23/2019
Print Headline: Energy stocks surge, lift S&P; 500