Oil stocks, Berkshire lift S&P 500; Apple pushes Nasdaq lower

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose on Monday, supported by gains in energy stocks and strong results from Berkshire Hathaway Inc, while the Nasdaq was dragged down by a 3 percent drop in Apple Inc shares.

The iPhone maker’s shares (AAPL.O) were on track for their worst two-day decline since January 2013, after the Nikkei reported that the company had told smartphone assemblers to halt plans for additional production lines dedicated to the iPhone XR.

A disappointing holiday-quarter forecast had sent the company’s shares down about 7 percent on Friday.

The energy sector .SPNY, which has lagged the broader S&P 500 .SPX this year, was up 1.4 percent as the United States imposed a range of punitive sanctions on Iran, lifting oil prices by about 1 percent.

Chevron rose 3.8 percent, providing the biggest boost to the Dow, while EQT Corp (EQT.N) and Cabot Oil (COG.N) were the top gainers on the S&P 500, rising 6.5 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.

Gains in defensive sectors, including real estate .SPLRCR, utilities .SPLRCU and consumer staples .SPLRCU, helped the markets rebound at the start of a packed week, which will see the U.S. midterm elections and a Federal Reserve meeting.

“One thing we’re seeing right now at a market level and a sector level is that volatility begets volatility. The fact that somebody moves up and down is more about what’s happened recently in terms of the size of those moves,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“Tech stocks, by and large, were the last bastion of strength and you could argue that there is further room for them to catch down to some of the broader indexes.”

Apple’s decline spurred losses in fellow FAANG stocks, with Amazon (AMZN.O), Facebook (FB.O), Netflix (NFLX.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) down between 0.4 percent and 3.3 percent.

Opinion polls show a strong chance for President Donald Trump’s Republican Party holding the Senate but losing control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats – a potential hurdle to Trump’s pro-business agenda, which has been a major factor for the stock market’s rally since the 2016 election.

With the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting kicking off on Wednesday, investors are fretting over tighter U.S. monetary policy, especially after a string of strong economic data, including Friday’s jobs report.

At 11:58 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 154.00 points, or 0.61 percent, at 25,424.83, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 7.56 points, or 0.28 percent, at 2,730.62 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 67.06 points, or 0.91 percent, at 7,289.94.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) (BRKb.N) jumped 4.7 percent after the conglomerate run by billionaire Warren Buffett said its quarterly operating profit doubled. The gains lifted the S&P financial index .SPSY up 1.3 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.49-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.11-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded eight new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 28 new highs and 39 new lows.

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