NEW YORK – Stocks are lower Thursday as interest rates drop and banks take sharp losses. Department stores and mall operators are tumbling as Macy’s and Kohl’s both plunged following weak holiday-season reports that led the chains to cut their profit forecasts. Health care stocks and companies that pay large dividends are trading higher.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average sank 67 points, or 0.3 percent, to 19,875 as of 3 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,266. The Nasdaq composite rose 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,481. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks surrendered 16 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,371.
FIRE SALE: Macy’s and Kohl’s reported declines in a key sales measure for November and December. Macy’s said it will restructure its business, sell properties and continue to close stores. Macy’s, which has lost about half its value over the last two years, tumbled $5.07, or 14.1 percent, to $30.77 and Kohl’s slumped $9.87, or 19 percent, to $42.01. Competitor Nordstrom fell 8 percent and J.C. Penney sank 6.3 percent.
Online retail giant Amazon rose $21.64, or 2.9 percent, to $778.82 as investors felt the continued trouble for traditional stores shows Amazon is succeeding.
BONDS: Bond prices jumped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.37 percent from 2.44 percent. That sent banks to steep losses, as lower bond yields mean lower interest rates and reduced profits from mortgages and other loans. Citigroup lost $1.16, or 1.9 percent, to $60.25 and Wells Fargo lost $1.06, or 1.9 percent, to $54.96.
The drop in bond yields encouraged investors to buy stocks that pay big dividends. Real estate investment trusts, household goods makers and utility companies all made modest gains. Those stocks are often compared to bonds because of their high dividend payments, and investors often buy them when bond yields fall.
THE QUOTE: The day started with a mixed report on hiring as the payroll processing company ADP said private U.S. companies didn’t add as many jobs as analysts expected, or as many as they had in the months before.
Stocks have surged in the last two months because investors expect faster economic growth. Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones, said they may be waiting for a while.
“We’ll begin to feel the impact of some of the policy changes in the second half of the year,” she said. President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed tax cuts and boosts in infrastructure spending will have a bigger effect on the economy in 2018.
CURRENCIES: The dollar continued to slip below its recent 14-year highs. It fell to 115.41 yen from 117.60 yen. The euro rose to $1.0599 from $1.0467.
The price of gold jumped $16, or 1.4 percent, to $1,181.30 an ounce. Silver gained 9 cents to $16.64 an ounce. That sent mining companies higher. Newmont Mining gained $1.68, or 4.8 percent, to $36.64 and Hecla Mining rose 26 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $5.83.
Copper prices edged down 2 cents to $2.54 a pound.
SEARS RISES AGAIN: Sears jumped after it said it will sell the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million. Sears will also get a percentage of Craftsman sales over the next 15 years and it will continue to sell the products at its stores. That gives Sears another raft of cash, and its shares climbed 15 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $10.51. Last Thursday the company’s stock rose 10 percent after Sears said it secured new financing that will help fund its operations.
Sears also said it will close another 150 stores. Investors rarely see that kind of announcement as a positive, but they’ve long expected such a move. Stanley Black & Decker gained $1.70, or 1.5 percent, to $118.18. In October the company agreed to buy Newell Brands’ tools business for $1.95 billion.
ADVISE AND CONSENT: The technology information and analysis company Gartner said it will buy advisory company CEB for $2.6 billion in cash and stock. CEB jumped $13.08, or 21.1 percent, to $74.97 while Gartner gave up $9.78, or 9.6 percent, to $92.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude picked up 50 cents to $53.76 a barrel in New York. Brent crude added 43 cents to $56.89 a barrel in London.
OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline lost 1 cent to $1.64 a gallon. Heating oil remained at $1.69 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.27 per 1,000 cubic feet.
OVERSEAS: The FTSE 100 index in Britain inched up 0.1 percent to set another all-time high. The German DAX held steady CAC-40 in France rose less than 0.1 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.4 percent and the Kospi of South Korea edged 0.2 percent lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.5 percent.