Banks lead stocks to slight gains
NEW YORK — Stocks closed slightly higher on Wall Street Tuesday, erasing the market's modest losses from a day earlier.
The gains, which followed a rally in overseas stock indexes, came as investors sized up the latest batch of company earnings reports.
Financial stocks led the way higher as bond yields rose, which drives interest rates higher, enabling banks to make more money on loans. BlackRock and Progressive led the sector after each company reported solid quarterly results.
Investors are looking to the latest wave of corporate earnings reports over the next few weeks for clues about the health of the global economy and the prospects for company profits this year.
Analysts expect the first-quarter results for S&P 500 companies overall to be the weakest in nearly three years.
"The markets are prepared for this year-over-year decline that everyone is expecting in earnings," said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank. "Unless we have some significant misses, we should be doing OK."
AT&T sheds its stake in Hulu
NEW YORK — AT&T has sold its 9.5% share in Hulu back to the streaming TV company, leaving Disney and Comcast as its owners.
Hulu said Monday that AT&T sold its stake for $1.43 billion, valuing the unprofitable Hulu at $15 billion.
The Walt Disney Co. wound up with a 60% share after its purchase of much of 21st Century Fox, which included Fox's Hulu stake. NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corp. owns 30%. There is speculation that Comcast will sell too, leaving Disney the sole owner and perhaps making Hulu's content much more Disney-centric.
Disney may bundle Hulu with its upcoming kids-focused streaming service, Disney Plus, and its sports service, ESPN Plus, executives said last week.
Hulu's $6-a-month service lets users watch original series and network TV episodes after they air on TV. It has a newer live-TV service that costs $45 a month.
AT&T came by its Hulu stake after buying Time Warner, which invested $583 million in Hulu in 2016.
Apple, chip firm settle tech dispute
SAN FRANCISCO — Apple and mobile chip maker Qualcomm have settled a bitter financial dispute centered on some of the technology that enables iPhones to connect to the Internet.
The surprise truce announced Tuesday came just as the former allies turned antagonists were facing off in a federal court trial that was supposed to unfold over the next month. The resolution abruptly ended that trial, which also involved Apple's key iPhone suppliers.
The deal requires Apple to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount. It also includes a six-year licensing agreement that likely involves recurring payments to thee chip maker.
Investors reacted as if it were a resounding victory for Qualcomm. The San Diego company's stock soared 23%.
Neither Apple nor Qualcomm would comment beyond a statement saying they had resolved their differences.
Boeing wins $14.3B bomber deal
OKLAHOMA CITY — Boeing Co. has won a $14.3 billion contract to service and maintain all B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bombers at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.
The contract includes hardware and software development and integration, ground and flight testing, configuration management, studies and analyses and modernization, said the Department of Defense in a statement.
The agreement continues a Boeing contract awarded 10 years ago to service aircraft at Tinker, which is a major part of the Air Force's maintenance, repair and overhaul network, The Oklahoman reported.
Maintenance of the B-21 Raider, a long-range stealth bomber expected to replace the B-1 and B-52 in the mid-2020s, will also take place at Tinker.
Industrial output slips in March
WASHINGTON — U.S. industrial production fell in March, pulled down by a drop in mining output. Factory output remained weak amid a slowing global economy and trade tensions with China.
The Federal Reserve says industrial output — combining production at factories, utilities and mines — slipped 0.1% in March from the previous month.
Mining output declined 0.8% but was up 10.5% from March 2018.
Manufacturing production was flat after dropping in January and February. In the first three months of the year, factory output fell at an annual rate of 1.1%.
Utility production rose 0.2% after a sharp 3.7% increase in February.
The U.S. and China have slapped tariffs on $350 billion worth of each other's goods in a dispute over Beijing's aggressive push to challenge U.S. technological dominance.
J&J posts strong revenue in 1Q
NEW YORK — Lower sales overseas and higher costs for research and litigation pushed Johnson & Johnson's first-quarter profit down 14% to $3.75 billion. Still, the health care giant beat profit and revenue expectations.
The maker of Tylenol and psoriasis drug Stelara on Tuesday said unfavorable currency exchange rates reduced revenue by nearly 4%, leaving total sales flat at $20.03 billion, though that edged out projections.
Sales of prescription medicines were the bright spot as usual, rising 4% and accounting for over half of the company's total revenue.
The segment just got a boost from two U.S. Food and Drug Administration approvals, in March for nasal spray treatment Spravato for adults with treatment-resistant depression and last week for bladder cancer drug Balversa.
Earlier this month, J&J completed a key acquisition, paying $3.4 billion for Auris Health, which makes robotic technology used in lung treatments and diagnostic procedures.
Walmart offers kids styling service
NEW YORK — Walmart is teaming up with Kidbox, the 3-year-old online styling service for children, to offer its customers an exclusive, curated style box.
Starting Tuesday, Walmart customers will get access to more than 120 premium children's brands. The style box will include about five fashion items for $48, about 50% off the suggested retail price of the bundled items. Walmart customers complete a short style quiz for their child on Walmart.com Kidbox styles tailor each child's style preferences, season and where the child lives.
The partnership is the latest by Walmart to establish itself as a fashion destination and better play in the increasingly crowded subscription arena. In 2014, Walmart launched a quarterly subscription of beauty samples and products. Walmart had tested a short-lived subscription snack service called Goodies.