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Business

U.S. Stocks Dip as Banks and Energy Companies Fall

Investors are looking for safer places to put their money, as they've done over the last few days

This Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, file photo shows the Wall Street entrance of the New York Stock Exchange, photo: AP/Richard Drew
1 month ago

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks are losing ground Friday as banks fall and energy companies continue to slide, putting the Dow Jones industrial average on track to break a 10-day winning streak. The losses are modest, but there’s far more selling than buying on Wall Street.

Investors are looking for safer places to put their money, as they’ve done over the last few days. Bond prices are rising and yields are dropping. That’s sending interest rates lower, which hurts banks. High-dividend stocks are rising.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 46 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,764 as of 1:05 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,359. The Nasdaq composite sank 11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,824. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, slid 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,391. Major indexes are mixed this week but remain close to all-time highs.

BONDS: Bond prices sank again. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slid to 2.33 percent from 2.39 percent. Lower bond yields push interest rates lower, which means banks will make less money on mortgages and other loans. Wells Fargo slipped 94 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $57.55 and Bank of America fell 45 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $24.13. Investment banks and insurers traded lower as well.

With yields down, investors bought phone company and utility stocks, which pay large dividends similar to bonds. AT&T rose 20 cents to $42.15 and American Electric Power gained $1.04, or 1.6 percent, to $67.05.

HPE HURTING: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells data-center hardware and other commercial tech gear to big organizations, slumped after cutting its profit estimate for the year. It named several problems including the strong dollar, expenses, and other problems that it said will be “near-term.” The company’s quarterly sales dropped 10 percent and weren’t as strong as analysts hoped. Its stock skidded $1.83, or 7.4 percent, to $22.83.

Chipmakers and other technology companies also lost ground.

METAL GAINS: Gold and silver continued to rise. Gold, which jumped 1.5 percent a day earlier, picked up 0.5 percent to $1,258.20 an ounce. The metal is trading at its highest price since just after the presidential election, although it’s down sharply from this summer. Silver added 1.5 percent, to $18.38 an ounce and copper moved higher after a steep loss the previous day. That helped mining companies trade higher.

PENNEY POUNDED: Department store operator J.C. Penney said it will close 130 to 140 stores and two distribution centers in the next few months. That’s about 14 percent of its stores. Penney also said it will offer voluntary early retirement plans to about 6,000 employees. The company is trying to cut costs as it competes with online retailers. Its stock gave up 37 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $6.49.

Competitor Nordstrom jumped after it disclosed a better-than-expected quarterly profit with help from strong sales online and at Nordstrom Rack. Its shares gained $2.82, or 6.4 percent, to $46.76. Kohl’s also rose $2.45, or 6 percent, to $43.36. The stock dipped Thursday after investors weren’t thrilled by the company’s fourth-quarter report.

PRISON STOCKS: For-profit prison operator CoreCivic rose 97 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $34.97 and Geo Group added $1.52, or 3.2 percent, to $48.89. Late Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to continue doing business with private prison operators. That reversed an Obama administration policy that sent the stocks tumbling when it was announced in August.

The companies operate detention facilities used by Immigration and Customs enforcement as well as prisons and they get about half their revenue from contracts with the federal government. Their stocks have soared since Donald Trump was elected president in November. Investors expected the Obama-era policy would be reversed and that Trump’s policies toward immigration and criminal justice would strengthen their business. CoreCivic has climbed 140 percent since the election and Geo Group has doubled in value.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 31 cents to $54.14 a barrel. Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, fell 26 cents to $56.56 a barrel in London. Energy companies continued to trade lower. They’ve fallen sharply over the last month. The S&P 500 energy company index is down more than 6 percent this year while the broader S&P is up 5.5 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slid to 112.17 yen from 112.75 yen. The euro rose to $1.0579 from $1.0574.

OVERSEAS: The DAX in Germany fell 1.2 percent and France’s CAC 40 slumped 0.9 percent. In Britain the FTSE 100 shed 0.4 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.6 percent. The Hang Seng of Hong Kong fell 0.5 percent.

MARLEY JAY

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