NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are mostly higher Monday as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway leads gains in financial companies, while energy companies rise along with the prices of oil and natural gas.
Technology and internet companies continue to struggle as Apple drops again. Asian indexes fell following weak economic data in China and a lack of progress in trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.
Last week was the market’s best week since March. That came after a steep drop in October.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index added 8 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,731 as of 1:56 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 146 points, or 0.6 percent, to 25,417.
The Nasdaq composite sank 63 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,293. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,540.
Both of those indexes were hit hard during the market’s slump last month and are far from the highs they set in late August. Technology companies fell as investors worried about the trade dispute and about an increase in interest rates, which could erode the future profits of those companies. Smaller companies are vulnerable to higher interest rates because they tend to carry more debt.
THE QUOTE: Earnings for S&P 500 companies are on track to grow about 20 percent this year, and analysts expect company profits to grow another 10 percent next year, according to FactSet. But Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist for the Leuthold Group, said that might be too optimistic because costs and interest rates are rising and global economic growth could slip.
“It’s a double whammy of slowing sales at the same time we may be starting to (see pressure on) profit margins,” he said. Paulsen said it’s possible earnings could fall next year, and smaller companies might have a hard time dealing with that.
“Large companies tend to operate with bigger profit margins, and they have more room as a result of that to allow them to cut and to deal with a slowdown,” he said.
BANK ON BUFFETT: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate said its profit quadrupled in the third quarter as the value of its investments climbed. It also reported better results from its insurance and railroad divisions. Berkshire also bought back almost $1 billion in stock, the most in years. Its Class B stock climbed 4.5 percent to $215.92.
Other financial companies also rose. Insurer MetLife gained 3.2 percent to $44.55 and Citigroup picked up 1.8 percent to $67.10.
APPLE FALLS FAR: Apple lost another 3.6 percent to $200. On Friday it tumbled to its biggest loss in almost five years after the tech giant gave a weak fourth-quarter forecast and said it will stop announcing how many iPhones it sold each quarter. In early August Apple became the first publicly traded company valued at $1 trillion. It’s remained above that mark since then, but with Monday’s decline it’s on pace to finish with a valuation of about $950 billion.
Daniel Ives of Wedbush said Apple made its announcement appear “flippant,” but it’s actually part of a carefully calculated strategy intended to get investors to see the company as a services provider and not just a device seller. He rates Apple stock “Outperform” with a price target of $310 a share.
Other technology and internet companies also struggled, as they did throughout October. Video game maker Activision Blizzard shed 6.7 percent to $64.40 and chipmaker Nvidia fell 3.3 percent to $207.80. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, skidded 2.4 percent to $1,045.
U.S.-CHINA TRADE: Chinese President Xi Jinping Xi promised Monday to reduce costs for importers and raise consumer spending power, but he did not address the technology policy dispute between the U.S. and China, a critical part of the trade impasse between them. Global markets, especially in Asia, had risen Friday after Chinese officials and President Donald Trump said a phone conversation between the two leaders had gone well.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 1.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 2.1 percent.
TRIAL DATA: Eli Lilly added 4.7 percent to $111.76 after the company said patients who took its type 2 diabetes drug Trulicity were less likely to have a heart attack or other major heart problems during a clinical trial. The study compared Trulicity, an injection given once a week, to standard treatments.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 0.5 percent to $63.44 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, jumped 0.8 percent to $73.35 per barrel in London.
Natural gas soared 7.6 percent to $3.53 per 1,000 cubic feet following forecasts for cold weather in the next few days. Natural gas is primarily used to heat homes and its price often surges when investors expect a cold snap.
Chevron jumped 3.8 percent to $119.10 and EQT climbed 7.2 percent to $35.03.
EUROPE: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent while Germany’s DAZ fell 0.2 percent. The CAC 40 in France was little changed.
Those indexes rose even though the office of British Prime Minister Theresa May dismissed reports the country is close to reaching a divorce agreement with the European Union. Officials have said negotiators are on the brink of a deal, which could be reached this month.
The pound rose to $1.3042 from $1.2963.
BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.20 percent from 3.21 percent late Friday.
METALS: Gold fell 0.1 percent to $1,232.30 an ounce. Silver lost 0.7 percent to $14.65 an ounce. Copper shed 1.8 percent to $2.76 a pound.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.19 yen from 113.28 yen. The euro rose to $1.1420 from $1.1398.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.