The major U.S. stock indexes drifted slightly higher in late-afternoon trading Monday after spending much of the morning wavering between small gains and losses. Investors were looking ahead to President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress on Tuesday for details of promised tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Energy stocks led the gainers as the price of crude rose. Phone companies lagged the most.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,839 as of 3:23 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,370. The Nasdaq composite index gained 11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,856. The Dow notched 11 straight gains heading into Monday’s trading.
TRUMP WATCH: During a meeting with governors Monday, President Donald Trump noted that his upcoming budget would include a big boost to defense spending. The White House separately said that the budget would include a $54 billion increase in defense spending while imposing corresponding cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid.
THE QUOTE: Investors were looking ahead to Trump’s speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress for details of how he plans to carry out promises to cut taxes and step up infrastructure spending. U.S. stocks have benefited from Trump’s promise of pro-business changes, but investors are becoming uneasy over how large and rapid those changes will be.
“The theme for today is going to be the waiting game,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. “The markets had this incredible run, much of it based on potential tax policy, and what everyone wants to see tomorrow night is some more details.”
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Shares in major defense contractors moved higher. Raytheon added $1.61, or 1 percent, to $155.09. Northrop Grumman gained $3.76, or 1.5 percent, to $248.81. Lockheed Martin climbed $5.36, or 2 percent, to $269.54.
LOOKING UP: Expectations that the Trump administration will ramp up infrastructure spending projects helped lift several materials companies. Martin Marietta Materials rose $5.67, or 2.7 percent, to $215.72, while Vulcan Materials added $2.56, or 2.2 percent, to $120.38. Summit Materials gained 55 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $24.30.
STRONG QUARTER: Tegna climbed 3.4 percent after the media company’s latest earnings beat Wall Street’s estimates. The stock rose 85 cents to $25.65.
LET’S GO SHOPPING: Traders bid up shares in several retail chains. Nordstrom gained $1.59, or 3.4 percent, to $47.68, while Kohl’s rose 95 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $43.94. Foot Locker was up $1.13, or 1.5 percent, to $76.14.
GROCERY SLIDE: Consumer stocks were among the biggest decliners as several supermarket operators declined. Kroger fell 98 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $32.32, while Whole Foods Market dipped 44 cents, or 1.4 percent, at $31.12.
DISAPPOINTING OUTLOOK: Power company AES fell 6 percent after its full-year profit forecast disappointed investors. The stock slid 71 cents to $11.22.
MIXED DATA: The Commerce Department said U.S. businesses boosted their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in January by 1.8 percent, the largest amount in three months. But a key category that tracks business investment plans slipped 0.4 percent, the first drop since September.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.2 percent, while France’s CAC-40 was flat. London’s FTSE-100 added 0.1 percent. Earlier, major indexes in Asia posted losses. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.2 percent. Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.4 percent. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.3 percent.
OIL & GAS: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 6 cents to close at $54.05 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 6 cents to close at $55.93 in London. Natural gas futures shed 9 cents, or 3.4 percent, at $2.69 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $1.53 a gallon, while heating oil was little changed at $1.64 a gallon.
TREASURY YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.37 percent from 2.32 percent late Friday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.80 yen from Friday’s 111.98 yen. The euro rose to $1.0589 from $1.0565.
METALS: The price of gold edged up 50 cents to $1,258.80 an ounce. Silver added 2 cents to $18.35 an ounce. Copper rose a penny to $2.69 a pound.