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US stock indexes wobble; technology gains but energy slides

U.S. stocks are mixed Wednesday as technology companies rise while energy firms fall with the price of oil. Investors are reacting to another drop in bond yields by selling bank stocks and buying high-dividend utility companies. Major indexes are little changed. More stocks are down than up as the market comes off its biggest loss in five months.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,346 as of 1:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 21 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,647, dragged by Nike’s biggest one-day loss since June 2012. The Nasdaq composite rose 16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,809. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies sank 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,339.

On Tuesday the market suffered its biggest one-day loss since October as investors wondered if key aspects of President Donald Trump’s agenda will be delayed. The Republican-backed American Health Care Act appears to be in trouble ahead of a House of Representatives vote on Thursday. That could affect Trump’s proposals for business-friendly policies like tax cuts, looser regulations and infrastructure spending.

TECH ON TOP: Technology companies led the market higher, which they’ve done throughout this year. Apple gained 92 cents to $140.76 and Microsoft rose 70 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $64.91 while software maker Adobe Systems added $1.31, or 1 percent, to $126.38. The S&P 500’s technology index is up 11 percent in 2017, more than double the gain for the broader S&P 500.

POWER PLAY: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.39 percent from 2.42 percent. Lower bond yields mean lower interest rates, and those reduce the profits banks can make from lending. Financial firms traded lower. Wells Fargo lost 66 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $55.19 and SunTrust Banks fell 47 cents, or 1 percent, to $53.93.

Investors snapped up high-dividend stocks as bond yields fell. Entergy gained $1.43, or 1.9 percent, to $77.19 while Exelon picked up 40 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $36.36. Some real estate investment trusts also made gains, but utilities stood out. They are the best-performing part of the S&P 500 over the last month.

TEARS FOR SEARS: Sears said in a regulatory filing that there is “substantial doubt” it will be able to remain in business. In recent years the parent company of Sears and Kmart has closed more than 2,000 stores and slashed spending and jobs, and it has sold brands and split off its real estate assets to raise cash. The company continues to lose billions a year as its sales fall further. It said pension agreements may prevent it from spinning off other businesses. The stock has already been trading near all-time lows and lost $1.30, or 14.3 percent, to $7.80 Wednesday.

The company’s real estate investment trust, Seritage, lost 39 cents to $43.16.

DIDN’T DO IT: Shoe and athletic apparel giant Nike is on track for its worst day in almost five years as Wall Street wasn’t impressed with its third-quarter results, which included slightly disappointing sales, or its forecasts for the current period. Nike shares fell $3.73, or 6.4 percent, to $54.28. The stock is up this year but hasn’t recovered from a 19-percent tumble in 2016. Investors have worried about Nike’s intense competition with rivals Under Armour and Adidas.

ENERGY: Oil prices continued to fall after the U.S. government said fuel stockpiles grew more than expected last week. U.S. crude lost 28 cents to $47.96 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 37 cents to $50.59 a barrel in London.

TAKING ILL: Drugmaker Mallinckrodt fell after Imprimis Pharmaceuticals said it is studying a drug that could compete with Mallinckrodt’s costly HP Acthar gel, the source of a third of the company’s revenue. Mallinckrodt has faced criticism over repeated increases in the price of Acthar, which is used to treat more than a dozen illnesses. In 2014 it paid $5.6 billion to buy the company that makes the drug.

Mallinckrodt lost $1.76, or 4 percent, to $42.29. The stock has lost almost half its value since late August.

SEEKING A DEAL: Paint and coatings maker PPG Industries fell after it made another offer to buy industrial paints and chemicals company AkzoNobel. The Dutch company rejected the offer, which was worth about $24 billion. The stock shed 59 cents to $103.89.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 111 yen from 111.90 yen. The euro rose to $1.0810 from $1.0804.

OVERSEAS: Stocks overseas were lower after losses in the U.S. The British FTSE 100 index fell 0.7 percent. The German DAX fell 0.5 percent and the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.2 percent. In Japan the Nikkei 225 stock index fell 2.1 percent as the yen strengthened compared to the dollar, which hurts Japanese exporters. The Hang Seng of Hong Kong dropped 1.1 percent and the South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.5 percent.


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