Earnings cloud drags down Dow; Nasdaq gains on biotech M&A

By Reuters

Apr 21, 2015 06:19 PM EDT

U.S. stocks were a mixed bag on Tuesday, with the Dow ending lower after a handful of uninspiring earnings reports while the Nasdaq closed near a record high following a proposed biotech merger.

Travelers (TRV.N), DuPont (DD.N) and IBM (IBM.N) shares weighed on the Dow Jones industrial average. DuPont reported lower sales in all of its businesses and said a strong dollar would take a toll on its full-year earnings. IBM also mentioned currency effects when it reported a fall in revenue late on Monday.

DuPont ended the session 2.95 percent lower at $70.69 and IBM fell 1.14 percent to $164.26.

March-quarter earnings season is in full swing, with almost 73 percent of the S&P 500 components that have reported so far beating bottom-line expectations, but just 42.2 percent beating expectations for revenue.

Investors struggled to gauge how much a strong dollar has hurt U.S. multinationals, including technology companies like Facebook (FB.O), Google (GOOGL.O), Qualcomm (QCOM.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) that sell many of their products and services overseas and are expected to report their earnings this week.

"There's a lot of cross-current in the earnings picture. Are we at peak margins? Are we likely to hold, or might there be some downside?" said Mark Foster, chief investment officer at Kirr Marbach & Co in Columbus, Indiana. "People are pretty zeroed in on that."

The dollar .DXY has gained almost 9 percent since the beginning of the year against a basket of major currencies, hurting companies with large overseas operations.

Travelers reported a drop in quarterly net profit and its shares ended down 4.01 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 85.34 points, or 0.47 percent, to end at 17,949.59. The S&P 500 .SPX lost 3.11 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,097.29 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 19.50 points, or 0.39 percent, to 5,014.10.

The Nasdaq ended the day less than 35 points away from its March 2000 all-time closing high.

Mylan (MYL.O) shares rose 8.85 percent to end at $74.07 after Israeli drugmaker Teva (TEVA.N) made an unsolicited offer of $82 per share, in what could be the drug industry's largest takeover this year. Teva rose 1.37 percent. The Nasdaq Biotech index .NBI ended up 1.87 percent.

After the bell, Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG.N) and Yahoo (YHOO.O) posted quarterly revenues that fell short of analyst estimates, and their shares fell 4.5 percent and 1.19 percent, respectively.

Yum Brands (YUM.N) and Broadcom (BRCM.O) gained about 4 percent each after they posted earnings that beat modest expectations.

First-quarter earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to dip 2.2 percent, while revenues are seen declining 3.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data which includes companies that already reported.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,521 to 1,512, for a 1.01-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,381 issues fell and 1,346 advanced, for a 1.03-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite, recorded 95 new highs and 27 new lows.

About 5.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.2 billion daily average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Markets.

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