Investing.com - On the surface, it was a quiet day for the stock market, but Boeing, Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) and transportation stocks suggested the market could move higher.
The S&P 500 finished down slightly, mostly because higher interest rates cut into utilities and real estate stocks.
But the Dow Jones industrials added about 0.11%, hitting a new closing high, thanks basically to gains in Boeing (NYSE:BA) and pharmacy giant Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA). The Nasdaq Composite was up only slightly, with chip and networking stocks providing the fuel. But that, too, was a new closing high -- but barely a closing high.
The Nasdaq 100 index, dominated by big technology stocks, fell back a half point after hitting closing highs on Friday and Monday.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which hit a new intraday high, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) closed down very slightly, their losses costing the index a whopping two points in total. The index was down a half point.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN), up 6.9%, and Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE) were the index leaders.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) was up 2%, adding 48 points to the blue-chip index, because, in a CNBC interview, its new board chairman David Calhoun voiced confidence for CEO Dennis Muilenburg's performance in the 737 Max crisis, although the CEO will give up his 2019 bonus.
As cynical as it sounds, the stock is still up 11% on the year, a signal that many investors are willing to stick with Boeing and expected the aerospace giant to come out of the crisis caused when two 737 Max jets fell out of the sky in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Calhoun acknowledged engineering problems with the plane and said the company will be compensating customers forced to ground their 737 Max planes.
Walgreens jumped on a Reuters report it may be looking at going private in what might be one of the biggest leveraged buyouts ever. The gain was good for 11 points for the Dow, which ended the day up 30.5 points.
If a deal can be done, it would take a lesser-performer out of the Dow. The shares are off about 7% on the year, when the index itself is up 17.8%. (The big downside to a buyout would be how many people would lose jobs in cost cutting.)
Transportation stocks had a strong day, reflecting hopes that a trade deal between the United States and China will boost shipping and air travel.
The Dow Jones Transportation Average hit a new intraday high of 11,161.32. The average ended up 0.6% but fell short of a new closing high. Nonetheless, the average moved up on big gains for logistics giant Expeditors International of Washington (NASDAQ:EXPD) and strength in airline stocks. JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU) hit a 52-week high.
A rising transportation average is an important coincident index. If the economy is growing, consumers are buying stuff. If they're buying more stuff, someone needs to ship it. Trucks are a key transportation mode, and PACCAR (NASDAQ:PCAR), the big maker of trucks, hit a new all-time high.
The index is up 20.5% for the year and 13.5% since slumping in May.
The gains for the transports were strong enough to overcome weakness from rising oil prices and higher interest rates as well. The 10-Year Treasury yield rose to 1.855% from Monday's 1.788%.
Supermarket giant Kroger (NYSE:KR), International Flavors & Fragrances (NYSE:IFF), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) and Under Armour Inc C (NYSE:UA) were among the top S&P 500 performers.
Pharmaceutical company Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL), medical-equipment maker Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX), oil company Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) and animal medicine company IDEXX Laboratories (NASDAQ:IDXX) were among the weakest S&P 500 performers.