- The S&P 500 gained 0.2% on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, as Federal Reserve officials struck a tone of cautious optimism and more companies released quarterly results.
- GE HealthCare shares soared as growth in imaging and patient care solutions helped drive strong earnings.
- Shares of FMC Corp. tumbled after the agriculture firm provided lackluster guidance, reflecting the impact of low sales volume and destocking issues.
Major U.S. stock indexes posted moderate gains as more companies reported earnings results. Meanwhile, comments from Federal Reserve officials highlighted the positive indications from recent economic data, even if policymakers are not ready to declare victory in their mission to stamp out inflation.
The S&P 500 added 0.2% in Tuesday’s session, and the Dow was up 0.4%. The Nasdaq eked out a gain of less than 0.1%.
GE HealthCare Technologies (GEHC), which completed its spinoff from General Electric (GE) at the beginning of 2023, was Tuesday’s top stock on the S&P 500. Shares soared 11.7% after the provider of medical devices and services reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter sales and profits. Revenue growth in the company’s imaging and patient care solutions segments helped drive the strong results.
Solid quarterly results also helped boost shares of DuPont de Nemours (DD), which jumped 7.4%. In addition to beating Wall Street’s consensus profit forecast for the fourth quarter, the specialty chemicals firm boosted its quarterly dividend by 6% and declared a new $1 billion share repurchase program. The company anticipates a stabilization of demand in China as well as in its semiconductor and electronics businesses.
Another set of strong results came from insurer Willis Towers Watson (WTW), which exceeded bottom-line estimates on strong year-over-year revenue growth. Highlights included the risk and broking segment, which received a boost from new business, better client retention, and higher rates. Shares of the firm gained 7.2% on Tuesday.
Shares of FMC Corporation (FMC) saw the steepest losses among S&P 500 stocks, plunging 11.5% after the agricultural sciences firm issued weaker-than-expected guidance for the first quarter. FMC reported a significant sales drop in its Latin America business in the fourth quarter, and it faces numerous headwinds related to destocking and low sales volumes.
Charter Communications (CHTR) shares fell 4.4% after analysts at Wells Fargo and JPMorgan downgraded the stock, citing concerns about the competitive environment and the cable company’s growth trajectory. Tuesday’s downturn extended the steep losses posted on Friday after Charter reported an unexpected drop in broadband internet subscribers.
Shares of Tyson Foods (TSN) slipped 3.7%. Although the stock initially jumped higher on Monday after the meat producer reported better-than-expected quarterly profits, the demand picture remains uncertain as consumers navigate the high-price environment, and Tyson’s beef business faces pressures related to low U.S. cattle supplies.