Stocks Edging Lower in Afternoon Trade

Stocks Edging Lower in Afternoon Trade

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock indexes were slightly lower in quiet trading Monday, as investors worked through several company announcements. Health care companies were solidly higher. Global markets rose modestly.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average slipped four points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 17,788 as of 12:25 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down one point, or 0.05 percent, to 2,071 and the Nasdaq composite edged down four points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,911.

FIRST CLASS: Virgin America jumped $16.30, or 42 percent, to $55.21 after the company agreed to be bought by Alaska Air Group. Shares of Alaska Air fell $3.70, or 4.5 percent, to $78.20. JetBlue, which had bid for Virgin as well, fell 70 cents, or 4 percent, to $20.54.

IT'S ELECTRIC: Tesla Motors rose $12.30, or 5 percent, to $249.86 after the company announced it had received 276,000 preorders for its highly anticipated Model 3, which is to be unveiled on Thursday.

HEALTHY: Health-care companies were among the biggest gainers on Monday, with the health-care component of the S&P 500 rising 1.2 percent. Health-care stocks were helped by news out of Edwards Lifesciences, which said its new replacement heart valve product met the goals necessary in a clinical trial. Edwards Lifesciences jumped $17.40, or 19 percent, to $107.37.

OVERSEAS: European stocks closed slightly higher. Germany's DAX gained 0.3 percent, France's CAC-40 rose 0.5 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 edged up 0.3 percent.

OIL: Oil prices seesawed as investors digested reports that Saudi Arabia would freeze its production only if Iran and other producers agreed to do the same. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 22 cents $36.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 36 cents to $38.31 a barrel in London.

U.S. JOBS: The U.S. government said Friday that job growth continued at a strong clip in March, slightly stronger than investors expected and showing employers were confident enough to add staff despite the slowing economy. Employers added 215,000 jobs last month, a solid figure but not enough to keep up with the new job-seekers. More people also looked for work and wages edged higher.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices didn't move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.77 percent. The euro rose to $1.1394 from $1.1392 while the dollar fell to 111.21 yen from 111.73 yen.

(KA)