US stock indexes wobble ahead of Trump decision on Iran deal

US stock indexes wobble ahead of Trump decision on Iran deal
The Associated Press

U.S. stocks wavered between small gains and losses Tuesday morning as trading turned choppy after an early slide. Losses in health care, energy and other sectors outweighed gains in banks and industrial companies. The decline in energy stocks came as oil prices fell ahead of an afternoon announcement by the White House on whether the U.S. will pull out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,671 as of 11:32 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 1 point to 24,358. The Nasdaq slid 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,260. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,582.

IRAN DECISION: President Donald Trump was due to announce Tuesday afternoon whether he plans to carry out his threat to pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran and almost surely cause its collapse. Several companies, including Airbus, Boeing and Total, have struck business deals in Iran and could be looking for exemptions if U.S. sanctions are imposed again.

ENERGY: Oil prices declined as traders waited for the White House’s decision on Iran. Uncertainty over the policy helped lift the price of crude on Monday above $70 a barrel for the first time since November 2014.

On Tuesday, benchmark U.S. crude oil dropped 91 cents to $69.82 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 80 cents to $75.37 per barrel in London.

The slide in oil futures weighed on some energy stocks. Helmerich & Payne slid 2.2 percent to $67.16.

DOUBLE DOSE: Shire rose 5 percent to $40.48 after the Ireland-based pharmaceutical company agreed to be acquired by Japanese drugmaker Takeda in a deal worth $62.4 billion. Shares in Takeda added 0.5 percent to $21.10.

RIVALS NO MORE: Xcerra climbed 2.7 percent to $13.19 after the semiconductor equipment testing company accepted a cash and stock offer valued at $764.4 million from competitor Cohu. Shares in Cohu slid 8.8 percent to $21.30.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.98 percent from 2.95 percent late Monday. The rise in yields pushed up interest rates, which allows banks to make more money from loans. That helped drive financial sector stocks higher. Capital One Financial rose 3 percent to $91.60.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.19 yen from 109.06 yen on Monday. The euro fell to $1.1859 from $1.1923.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX dropped 0.3 percent while the CAC 40 in France lost 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat. Major indexes in Asia finished mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index added 0.2 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 1.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi gave up early gains to lose 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent higher. Shares rose higher in Singapore and Taiwan, but fell 1.9 percent in Indonesia after the government reported economic growth slowed in January-March.