A sharp slide by Target and other big retailers weighed on U.S. stock indexes late Tuesday afternoon, steering the market on course for a lower close. Industrial stocks and phone companies were among the big decliners, while utilities gained the most. Investors were looking ahead to an evening speech by President Donald Trump to both houses of Congress in hopes of gleaning more details on the timing of tax cuts and other policies.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,795 as of 3:38 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,360. The Nasdaq composite index lost 40 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,821. Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index slumped 19 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,388. The Dow notched 12 straight gains heading into Tuesday’s trading.
TRUMP’S SPEECH: Investors are awaiting Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress later Tuesday and in particular will be seeking more clarity on tax cuts, infrastructure spending and other policies. On Monday the president told a group of governors, “We’re going to start spending on infrastructure big.” He also said his budget would propose increasing defense spending by $54 billion while cutting domestic programs and foreign aid by the same amount.
THE QUOTE: “The next direction of this market, in our view, is going to be very much driven by the ability of the administration to start putting into action some of the things that the market has gotten excited about, mainly tax reform more than anything else,” said Rob Eschweiler, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
BIG DECLINER: Signet Jewelers sank 12.9 percent following a report of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at a subsidiary. The Washington Post first reported the allegations Monday, based on newly released class-action arbitration filings. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, tumbling $9.41 to $63.47.
BAD MEDICINE: Perrigo slumped 11.4 percent after investors reacted to several disclosures by the Irish drugmaker, including disappointing guidance for 2017 and the company’s decision to sell its royalty rights to a multiple sclerosis drug for as much as $2.85 billion. Perrigo said the sale will hurt its earnings, but noted it plans to use the proceeds to pay down some of its debts. The stock slid $9.63 to $75.05.
WHIFFED: Target plunged 12.7 percent after the retail chain’s latest quarterly profit fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts. The company also issued a weak outlook. The stock was lost $8.52 to $58.39.
PAY CUT: Online brokers were posting sharp declines after Fidelity announced a cut in trading commissions. Other brokerages also followed suit. ETrade Financial fell $2.82, or 7.6 percent, to $34.38, while Charles Schwab gave up $1.349, or 3.2 percent, to $40.39. TD Ameritrade slid $4.28, or 9.8 percent, to $39.36.
NO SALE: Fiesta Restaurant Group tumbled 24.2 percent after the operator of the Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana restaurant chains said it doesn’t plan to sell itself. The company had been reviewing its options for four months but didn’t get any final offers. The stock lost $6.27 to $19.68.
BIG GAINER: Albemarle surged 10.4 percent, the biggest gainer in the S&P 500. The chemicals company rose $9.58 to $102.04.
BIGGEST ‘LOSER’: Weight loss company Nutrisystem vaulted 19.1 percent as investors welcomed the latest quarterly results and its projections for 2017. The stock added $7.47 to $46.68.
TRAVEL BUZZ: Shares in Priceline climbed 5.8 percent after the online booking company posted strong quarterly earnings. The stock gained $94.60 to $1,726.61.
ANEMIC GROWTH: The Commerce Department said that the U.S. economy grew at a 1.9 percent rate in the last three months of 2016, unchanged from an initial estimate. The increase in the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, represented a significant slowdown from 3.5 percent growth recorded in the third quarter.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.1 percent, while the CAC 40 in France gained 0.3 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares added 0.1 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index trimmed strong earlier gains to finish less than 0.1 percent higher. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.8 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.2 percent to 5,712.20.
CURRENCIES: The euro strengthened to $1.0590 from $1.0589 on Friday. The dollar fell to 112.37 yen from 112.80.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, to close at $54.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 34 cents, or 0.6 percent, to close at $55.59 a barrel in London.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline shed 2 cents to $1.51 a gallon, while heating oil slid 2 cents to $1.62 a gallon. Natural gas futures rose 8 cents, or 3 percent, at $2.77 per 1,000 cubic feet.
TREASURY YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.36 percent from 2.37 percent late Monday.
METALS: The price of gold fell $4.90 to $1,253.90 an ounce. Silver added 7 cents to $18.42 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $2.70 a pound.
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