Stocks Finish Stronger as US Economic Data Offsets Oil-Price Plunge


The main US stock indexes closed just higher on Tuesday as economic data that painted a bullish picture seemed to offset a plunge in oil prices as uncertainty continued ahead of Wednesday’s meeting on crude production cuts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 both gained for a fifth time in six days, moving back to a winning path after Monday’s declines. The Nasdaq Composite touched a record intraday high during the session as its pharmaceutical stocks posted some of the biggest advances, although the index finished off the record peak reached last week.

Health care and real estate made the biggest gains on the S&P 500, rising about 0.7% each to be among nine of 11 groups that advanced. While the Dow ended in the green, only 13 of its 30 components managed gains, led by UnitedHealth Group (UNH), which rallied 3.6% after it raised its 2017 outlook.

Energy posted the steepest decline among the sectors on the S&P 500, retreating 1.1% late in the day as West Texas Intermediate, the main US variety, dropped 3.9% to $45.26 a barrel. Doubts were emerging about whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would agree on cuts at their meeting in Vienna, Austria, according to Reuters. Iran and Iraq are said to be resisting pressure from Saudi Arabia to curb output, the news agency reported.