U.S. stocks rise in shaky trading, led by utilities

Associated Press

U.S. stocks struggled through a turbulent day of trading Tuesday and eked out small gains, led by utility and consumer stocks. The price of crude oil continued to fall, and energy and mining stocks tumbled.

Stocks in Asia and Europe had rallied earlier in the day as investors were satisfied with China’s fourth-quarter economic growth. The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 183 points in the first minutes of trading Tuesday. The gains faded in the afternoon before a late spurt of buying in the last half hour sent indexes mostly higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 27.94 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,016.02. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose one point to 1,881.33. The Nasdaq composite index fell 11.47 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,476.95. Major indexes had plunged Friday, and the Dow and S&P 500 are coming off their worst opening weeks of a year in history.

The Chinese government’s report confirmed that the world’s second-largest economy is slowing, as annual growth hit a 25-year low in 2015. That can affect demand for everything from energy to metals to consumer goods and heavy machinery. Fears about a slowdown in China, and how abrupt and painful it might be, has helped knock oil prices to 12-year lows.

Safe-play stocks like utilities and telecommunications companies rose the most. AT&T added 52 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $34.51 and NextEra Energy gained $2.55, or 2.4 percent, to $107.81. Consumer goods maker Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide detergent and Charmin toilet paper, gained $1.75, or 2.3 percent, to $76.73.

U.S. crude fell 96 cents, or 3.3 percent, to close at $28.46 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 21 cents to close at $28.76 a barrel in London.Energy stocks continued to fall on concerns about reduced worldwide demand.

The price of gold fell $1.60 to $1,089.10 an ounce. Silver rose 22.5 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $14.121 an ounce. Copper gained 3.4 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $1.978 a pound.

Delta Air Lines reported a bigger fourth-quarter profit because of falling fuel prices. Delta said it expects fuel to be even less expensive in the first quarter. Its shares rose $1.46, or 3.3 percent, to $45.96. Health insurer UnitedHealth Group posted stronger-than-expected results in the fourth quarter. Its stock rose $3.31, or 3 percent, to $112.58.

Netflix surged aftermarket as the company’s net income surpassed analyst forecasts and its international subscriber growth was stronger than Netflix had expected. Netflix’s stock surged 8 percent in extended trading to $116.75.

Jewelry retailer Tiffany fell after reporting that sales dropped in the fourth quarter and said it will eliminate some jobs. The company also forecast minimal earnings and sales growth in 2016. The stock lost $3.43, or 5.1 percent, to $64.22.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 117.44 yen from 117.50 yen on Monday. The euro rose to $1.0923 from $1.0885. Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has slumped this year, rose to 2.05 percent from at 2.04 percent.