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Stocks slip, led by energy and materials companies

 

Energy and mining companies led a decline for U.S. stocks in late-afternoon trading Wednesday as the prices of oil, metals and other commodities fell. Disappointing earnings from several companies, including Nike, also weighed on the market.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,503 as of 3:23 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 13 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,036. The Nasdaq composite dropped 51 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,770.

THE QUOTE: Trading remained muted ahead of Friday, when markets will be closed for the Good Friday holiday. That’s likely to be the case on Thursday, said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

“It’s one of the lowest volume days of the year,” Davidson said. “We’re seeing a little bit of a sell-off, but not much.”

SECTOR VIEW: Eight of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index were down, with energy stocks sliding the most, 2.1 percent. The sector is down about 18 percent over the past 12 months. Utilities and consumer staples stocks moved higher.

MINE THIS: Some mining companies fell as metals prices headed lower. Newmont Mining fell $2.22, or 8.1 percent, to $25.17, while Freeport-McMoRan lost $1.17, or 10.6 percent, to $9.82.

ENERGY DRAG: Several energy companies tumbled as oil and natural gas prices veered lower. Chesapeake Energy lost 64 cents, or 13.3 percent, to $4.18, while natural gas company Williams Cos. fell $1.50, or 8.5 percent, to $16.13. Devon Energy slid $2.43, or 8.7 percent, to $25.58.

NOT DOING IT: Nike, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average, fell 3.8 percent after reporting revenue that fell far short of what analysts were expecting and a disappointing outlook for 2016. The athletic apparel maker dropped $2.44 to $62.46.

DOH! NUT: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts slid 4.3 percent after the chain reported disappointing fourth-quarter revenue and a weaker-than-expected annual profit forecast. The stock shed 66 cents to $14.72.

BUGGED: Red Hat shed 4.5 percent after the software maker delivered disappointing forecasts. The stock fell $3.38 to $72.33.

PHARMA SUIT: Gilead Sciences fell 3.7 percent after a federal jury in California ruled in favor of rival Merck & Co. in a high-stakes lawsuit over patents for lucrative new drugs that rapidly cure hepatitis C. Gilead shed $3.43 to $90.29. Merck added 10 cents to $53.13.

HOUSING REPORT: The Commerce Department said that new-home sales rose 2 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 512,000, with all of the increase coming from a surge in purchases in the West. Sales in the opening two months of 2016 are running slightly below last year’s pace. The report did little for homebuilder stocks, which were mostly down along with the broader market.

OVERSEAS: European stocks were mixed following Tuesday’s deadly bombings in Belgium. Germany’s DAX was up 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was down 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1 percent. Belgium’s main index was up 0.1 percent. In Asia, markets mostly fell moderately. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1 percent lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.5 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down $1.34, or 3.2 percent, to $40.11 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, was down $1.01, or 2.4 percent, to $40.78 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.87 percent from 1.94 percent late Tuesday. The euro fell slightly to $1.1181 from $1.1216, while the dollar rose to 112.39 yen from 112.33 yen.

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