U.S. Stocks Declined as Worries About Earnings Deepen

U.S. stocks dipped on Monday as fears increased that the strong dollar and lower oil prices will hurt U.S. first-quarter earnings.  Nine of the 10 S&P 500 sectors fell, led by a 1.1 percent decline in S&P industrials. Shares of General Electric Co dropped 3.1 percent to $27.63 after rallying on Friday, when the company said it may return more than $90 billion to investors through 2018. Shares of 3M Co were down 0.7 percent at $165.84.

The dollar was last up 0.1 percent against a basket of major currencies after hitting a peak of 99.99, its highest in four weeks. A stronger dollar tends to hurt profits for U.S. multinationals. U.S. crude oil prices edged higher, but their sharp decline since last year has weighed on energy companies’ results.  Corporate earnings kick into high gear this week. Estimates for first-quarter S&P 500 results have fallen sharply since Jan. 1, with earnings for the period expected to have declined 2.9 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data showed.

“There is some trepidation about what the earnings announcements are going to look like, and so investors are cautious,” said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston. “Most people are thinking earnings are going to be weak due the strong dollar, lower oil prices and sluggish consumer spending due to the winter weather. But we’ll see.”