Stocks inch up as media and bank gains cancel out tech dip

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks finished mostly higher Monday as banks, media and energy companies climbed just enough to cancel out losses for technology companies including Facebook and Amazon.

Cable provider Charter Communications surged on a report it might be bought by a Japanese technology company. Meanwhile, cable networks Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications agreed to combine in a deal worth almost $12 billion.

Technology companies missed out. Facebook returned some of its gains from last week, when it posted strong second-quarter results, and reports of higher expenses continued to affect Amazon’s shares. Banks rose, with HSBC climbing after it disclosed its own earnings.

About half of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 have reported their second-quarter results, and this week, Apple and other companies will join the fray. Steve Wood, chief market strategist for Russell Investments, said he expects strong earnings for U.S. companies, but he thinks stock markets in other regions will do better.

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“The earnings cycle and the economic cycle are earlier stage and the central bank of Europe is going to be providing liquidity over the next year,” he said. “It’s been an eight-and-a-half-year bull market in the U.S. and eight-plus-year economic expansion.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1.80 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,470.30. The Dow Jones industrial average continued to build on its record highs. It gained 60.81 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,891.12. The Nasdaq composite lost 26.55 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,348.12. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 4.12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,425.14. A majority of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange rose.

Charter Communications climbed after Bloomberg reported that Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is considering buying it. The report Sunday said that SoftBank initially wanted to combine Charter with Sprint, but after Charter rejected that idea, the technology company may buy Charter outright. Shares of the cable provider jumped $21.65, or 5.8 percent, to $391.91, and investors value Charter at about $101 billion.

Discovery Communications, which owns TLC and the Discovery Channel, will buy Scripps Networks Interactive for $90 per share. Scripps, which owns HGTV and the Travel Channel, picked up 50 cents to $87.41. It’s up 30 percent in two weeks on…

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