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Tuesday May 18th, 2021 7:34AM

Weak opening on Wall St led by healthcare, consumer stocks

By The Associated Press
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Shares are opening lower on Wall Street Tuesday led by the consumer discretionary and healthcare sectors. The S&P 500 was down about 0.5% in the first minutes of trading. Energy bucked the trend after Saudi Aramco said its profits soared by 30% in the first-quarter of the year, compared to last year, on the back of higher crude oil prices and recovering demand. IT services company Gartner led the gainers after nearly doubling analysts’ earnings forecasts in the first quarter. On Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the economic outlook has “clearly brightened” in the United States, but the recovery remains too uneven.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP's earlier story appears below:

Shares were mixed in Europe and Asia on Tuesday after strong corporate earnings and data lifted stocks on Wall Street.

London, Paris and Hong Kong advanced while Frankfurt declined. Tokyo and Shanghai were closed for holidays. Oil prices advanced.

Saudi Aramco said Tuesday its profits soared by 30% in the first-quarter of the year, compared to last year, riding on the back of higher crude oil prices and recovering demand as major economies claw their way out of recession, easing restrictions amid coronavirus vaccine rollouts.

U.S. benchmark crude oil jumped 70 cents to $65.19 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 91 cents on Monday to $64.49 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 70 cents to $68.31 per barrel.

Trading was thin with markets in China and Japan closed for Golden Week early May holidays.

Germany's DAX lost 0.6% to 15,143.42 while the CAC 40 in Paris edged 0.2% higher, to 6,317.39. In London, the FTSE 100 gained 0.5% to 7,005.12. The future for the Dow industrials slipped 0.1% while that for the S&P 500 lost 0.2%.

On Monday, a strong dose of positive earnings reports and economic data that showed the U.S. economy is growing pushed the S&P 500 up 0.3%.

In Asian trading Tuesday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.7% to 28,557.14 and the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 7,067.90. In Seoul, the Kospi picked up 0.6% to 3,147.37. India's Sensex gave up early gains, falling 0.2% to 48,610.71.

The Reserve Bank of Australia left its policies unchanged Tuesday at its May meeting.

The lack of trading in China and Japan and mixed results in New York “left the region content to sit in wait-and-see mode with Covid-19 nerves regionally, offsetting the bullishness of the Wall Street reopening gnomes," Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.

On Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the economic outlook has “clearly brightened” in the United States, but the recovery remains too uneven.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7% to 34,113.23. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shed an early gain, falling 0.5% to 13,895.12. The Russell 2000 index picked up 0.5% to 2,277.45.

Stocks have been grinding higher on expectations of an economic recovery and strong company profits this year as large-scale coronavirus vaccination programs help people return to jobs and normal activities after more than a year of restrictions. Massive support from the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve, and increasingly positive economic data, have also helped put investors in a buying mood, keeping stock indexes near their all-time highs.

More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their results so far this earnings season, which show profit growth of 54% so far, according to FactSet.

This is another busy week for earnings reports, with Merck, Pepsi, Colgate-Palmolive and CVS among the companies reporting their latest quarterly results. Investors will also get April’s jobs report on Friday.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was steady at 1.61%.

The U.S. dollar rose to 109.42 Japanese yen from 109.09 yen late Monday. The euro fell to $1.2003 from $1.2066.

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