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US stocks slip in afternoon trade; British vote remains focus

U.S. stocks moved lower on Friday, erasing all of the previous day’s gains, as investors continued to monitor Britain’s frenzied debate on whether to leave the European Union. The debate took on a new level of concern after the killing of a member of parliament.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 72 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,661 as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost nine points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,069 and the Nasdaq composite fell 42 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,802.

BRITAIN FOCUS: Investors’ focus has increasingly turned to Britain’s vote next week on whether to leave the EU. The campaigning became heated this week but was halted after the killing of a British politician in favor of staying in the EU. The vote will be held June 23.

Investors interpreted the assassination as something that could sway more voters to stay in the EU. U.K. and European stocks and the British pound rose against the euro and dollar. The pound traded at $1.4319 compared with $1.4205 the day before.

ANALYST TAKE: “This tragic event may have dampened the ‘leave’ campaign’s momentum somewhat,” said Daniel Vernazza, analyst at UniCredit bank. He noted the movement in the pound was the most significant indicator that investors believe this would be positive for the ‘remain’ campaign.

APPLE WOES: Technology giant Apple fell $1.68, or 2 percent, to $95.85 after news reports came out that Chinese officials ruled that Apple infringed on a patent of a major competitor, which could cause iPhone sales to be suspended in the country.

BEAUTIFUL MERGER: Elizabeth Arden shares rose $4.54, or 49 percent, to $13.85 after hair and makeup company Revlon said it would buy the company for $14 a share, or $419.3 million.

IN THE CLOUDS: Software company Oracle rose $1.06, or 2.8 percent, to $39.71 after the company reported earnings that beat analysts’ expectations.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.18 to $47.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.38 to $48.57 a barrel in London.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.61 percent from 1.58 percent a day earlier. The dollar fell to 104.23 yen from 104.31 yen while the euro gained slightly to $1.1277 from $1.1236.

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