Stocks were narrowly mixed by late afternoon Tuesday as energy spiked while the health care sector pulled lower.
The S&P 500 was up 0.1%, the Nasdaq slid 0.2%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat.
Crude recovered from a selloff to begin the week, recovering a level above $43. Trading has been choppy in recent weeks as hopes spiked then faded over whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could agree on a production cap. West Texas Intermediate crude oil was up 3.3% to $44.04 a barrel on Tuesday.
BP (BP) - Get Report led gains in the energy sector after adjusted quarterly earnings handily beat expectations. The British energy company reported underlying earnings of $532 million, far better than a forecast $140 million loss. A challenging commodities market continued to hurt BP, though, with overall earnings tumbling 79% from a year earlier.
Other energy companies including Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) , Chevron (CVX) - Get Report , Total (TOT) - Get Report and ChinaPetroleum & Chemical (SNP) - Get Report were higher, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Report added 1.4%.
The health care sector was the worst performer on markets Tuesday after major drugmaker Eli Lilly (LLY) - Get Report cut full-year profit estimates. The company reduced its earnings forecast to no higher than $2.78 a share, down from a previous low-end target of $2.83. Eli Lilly blamed the Venezuelan financial crisis and a $203.9 million charge tied to challenging conditions in the region.
Small-cap drugmaker Sarepta Pharmaceuticals (SRPT) - Get Report tumbled nearly 30% after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted against approval of a key muscular dystrophy drug. The FDA will review the drug on May 26 and will take the committee's advice into consideration.
Other health care stocks including Novo Nordisk (NVO) - Get Report , Amgen (AMGN) - Get Report , Sanofi (SNY) - Get Report and Celgene (CELG) - Get Report were lower, while the Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV) - Get Report slid 0.6%.
The U.S. Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee will convene for a two-day meeting which concludes on Wednesday afternoon with an announcement on interest rates. While the chances of an interest rate hike are slim, investors will be keen to gauge how willing members are to move at the next meeting in June.
The number of orders for long-lasting manufactured products in the U.S. rose just 0.8%, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday. Analysts had predicted a 1.8% increase after the measure fell 3.1% in February. Demand for autos, PCs and electrical goods slipped last month.
"This was a very disappointing report and the soft performance in orders activity along with the downward revisions to the prior estimates suggests that the struggles in this segment of the economy are continuing," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief U.S. macro strategist at TD Securities.
Home prices continued to rise, though at a slightly slower pace than expected. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.7% month on month in February, below expectations for a 0.9% increase. All 20 cities reported price increases for the fifth month in a row.
Consumer sentiment worsened in April as economic expectations grew more pessimistic. The Conference Board consumer confidence index fell to 94.2 in April from 96.1. Analysts had expected a slower decline to 95.8. Sentiment on current business conditions fell, while the number of consumers planning to buy big-ticket items such as cars or homes in the next six months declined.
Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Report was lower despite besting third-quarter earnings estimates. The consumer products company earned 86 cents a share in its recent quarter, 4 cents more than expected. P&G also detailed plans to repurchase shares totaling $8 billion in fiscal 2016.
DuPont (DD) - Get Report increased its full-year expectations after a strong start to the year in its agricultural business. The chemicals giant said it expects earnings between $3.05 and $3.20 a share over the full year, up 10 cents from its previous guidance. The company also expects to slash costs this year as it prepares to merge with Dow Chemical (DOW) - Get Report , pending regulatory approval.
Standard & Poor's removed its AAA credit rating for Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Report . Analysts pointed to expectations for a prolonged period of low oil prices as reason for the revision. Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report are now the only companies with an AAA credit rating from S&P.
3M (MMM) - Get Report topped quarterly earnings forecasts thanks to a tax benefit worth 10 cents a share. Quarterly revenue was slightly lower as the strong U.S. dollar cut into the topline by 3%. For the full year, the company anticipates earnings between $8.10 and $8.45 a share compared with consensus of $8.24.