By MARLEY JAY and ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writers
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes are mostly lower Tuesday and consumer goods makers are taking the biggest losses. While spending by consumers jumped last month by the largest amount in six years, a survey showed Americans are still worried about the job market and don’t expect much improvement.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 76 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,796 as of 1:27 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,096. The Nasdaq composite index gained 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,946.
Despite the losses, major U.S. indexes are wrapping up a strong month that has brought them near their highest levels of 2016.
EYE ON CONSUMERS: The Commerce Department said that U.S. consumer spending rose 1 percent in April, led by a big jump in purchases of autos and other durable goods. Wages and salaries, the most important component of incomes, gained 0.5 percent. The report suggests the U.S. economy could pick up in the second quarter after six months of sluggish growth.
But economists at the Conference Board said consumer confidence fell for the second month in a row and reached its lowest level since November. The group said consumers are feeling cautious about business and job market conditions, and they anticipate little change in the months ahead.
CONSUMER GOODS: Companies that make household goods like food, drinks, cleaners and other everyday items fell in afternoon trading. Beer and wine maker Constellation Brands lost $4.48, or 2.8 percent, to $153.35 and Coca-Cola fell 36 cents to $44.42. Clorox gave up $1.38, or 1.1 percent, to $128.32. The S&P 500’s consumer staples index is up 4 percent this year, a bit better than the S&P 500 overall.
THE QUOTE: Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank, said the consumer spending report shows Americans are gradually spending more and getting over the shocks of the financial crisis and Great Recession.
“There’s probably never been a better time to be a consumer than right now,” Davidson said. He noted that the job market remains solid, wages are inching higher and a strong dollar is making goods produced overseas less expensive.
POWER DEAL: Westar Energy, the biggest utility company in Kansas, surged after Great Plains Energy agreed to buy it for $8.5 billion, or $60 per share in cash and stock. The deal will give Great Plains a total of 1.5 million customers in Kansas and Missouri. Westar climbed $3.95, or 7.5 percent, to $56.87 and Great Plains Energy slid $1.82, or 5.9 percent, to $29.18.
NOT READY FOR TAKEOFF: Boeing slumped after the U.S. Air Force announced new delays for the company’s KC-46 Pegasus Tanker, a midair refueling plane. Boeing lost $2.40, or 1.9 percent, to $126.82, which helped pull the Dow lower.
REFRESHING: Coca-Cola European Partners PLC jumped $2.01, or 5.4 percent, to $39.06. The company was officially formed Tuesday through a combination of Coca-Cola Enterprises, which was already publicly traded, with two other European Coca-Cola bottling companies.
NEW MS DRUG: Drugmakers Biogen and AbbVie rose after the Food and Drug Administration approved Zinbryta, a once-a-month injection intended to treat multiple sclerosis. The two companies will market the drug together in the U.S.
Biogen gained $7.81, or 2.8 percent, to $290.60 and Abbvie added 18 cents to $62.89.
JAZZ IT UP: Jazz Pharmaceuticals says it will buy cancer drug developer Celator Pharmaceuticals for $30.25 per share, or $1.28 billion. Celator’s most advanced drug is Vyxeos, a potential treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.
Jazz gest most of its revenue from Xyrem, a drug used to treat side effects of narcolepsy, but it also makes cancer drugs. Celator soared $12.45, or 71 percent, to $29.98 and Jazz stock lost 52 cents to $151.57.
ICAHN-ALLERGAN: Botox maker Allergan rose $1.56 to $237.50 after billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he bought a “large” position in the company. He announced the move in a statement on his website and didn’t disclose details.
HOME PRICES: The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index increased 5.4 percent in March, maintaining its pace from the month before. Very few homes are on the market, which keeps prices up. So do job growth and low mortgage rates.
OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX edged 0.7 percent lower, while France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.5 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.6 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 1 percent higher, while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.9 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 42 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $49.76 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 22 cents to $50.58 a barrel in London. Natural gas jumped 13 cents, or 6 percent, to $2.30 per 1,000 cubic feet.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.84 percent from 1.86 late Friday. The dollar strengthened to 110.70 yen from 110.38 yen. The euro rose to $1.1135 from $1.1114.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay
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