Stocks End Mixed 02/23 17:43
Stocks wobbled Thursday as investors changed course and tempered their
expectations for faster economic growth. Industrial companies, which have
surged over the last few months, finished lower as Wall Street focused on gold,
bonds, and companies that pay big dividends.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks wobbled Thursday as investors changed course and
tempered their expectations for faster economic growth. Industrial companies,
which have surged over the last few months, finished lower as Wall Street
focused on gold, bonds, and companies that pay big dividends.
Construction equipment, transportation and metals companies skidded and
small-company stocks, which are more sensitive to changes in economic growth,
also slumped. Technology companies fell for the first time in February. The
biggest gains went to utilities, real estate investment trusts, and other
companies that pay hefty dividends. Despite all that, the Dow Jones industrial
average, which tracks 30 large U.S. stocks, rose for the 10th day in a row.
Industrial companies have made big gains since November as investors expect
the Trump administration and Republican Congress to ramp up spending on
infrastructure. That optimism faded a bit on Thursday.
An infrastructure spending bill is one of the administration's key proposals
for speeding up economic growth, along with tax cuts and reduced regulations.
But Jeff Kravetz, regional investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth
Management, said it might take a while before any bills are introduced or
"They're all positive initiatives for the economy but to get any of these
done is not something we can get done in a few months," he said. "We may have
gotten ahead of ourselves with a lot of these initiatives."
The Dow added 34.72 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,810.32. The Standard &
Poor's 500 index rose 0.99 points to 2,363.81. The Nasdaq composite lost 25.12
points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,835.51. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company
stocks slid 9.23 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,394.62.
Industrial companies declined for the second day in a row, and took some of
their biggest losses since the presidential election. They've made big gains
since November as investors expect the Trump administration and Republican
Congress to ramp up spending on infrastructure. That optimism faded a bit on
Thursday. Construction equipment maker Caterpillar gave up $2.65, or 2.7
percent, to $95.55, its biggest loss since September. United Rentals shed
$7.16, or 5.6 percent, to $120.90.
The price of copper fell 3.3 percent to $2.64 a pound, its biggest one-day
decline in more than a year. Copper is used in numerous construction projects,
so its price has jumped recently. Companies that make basic materials also
fell, and U.S. Steel lost $3.18, or 7.9 percent, to $37.31.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.37
percent from 2.42 percent.
That helped companies that pay big dividends, like utilities, real estate
investment trusts and phone companies. Electricity company FirstEnergy picked
up 60 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $31.39. Realty Income, which owns properties
used by retailers like drugstores and discount stores, gained $1.72, or 2.8
percent, to $62.86.
In another sign investors were seeking some refuge, gold jumped $18.10, or
1.5 percent, to $1,251.40 an ounce and silver rose 17 cents to $18.12 an ounce.
L Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, tumbled
after it said February sales have been weak, especially at Victoria's Secret.
The company decided to stop selling swimwear last year and said sales at older
stores have dropped sharply. The stock gave up $9.19, or 15.8 percent, to
Food conglomerate Hormel skidded after it said low turkey prices hurt its
profit and sales in the first quarter, and Hormel cut its annual profit
estimate because it expects those prices to remain weak. The stock fell $2.01,
or 5.4 percent, to $35.29.
HP Inc. blew past analyst estimates in the fourth quarter thanks to a 10
percent jump in revenue from personal computers. The company said Notebook
sales jumped, which made up for lower printer revenue and flat desktop sales.
The stock added $1.40, or 8.6 percent, to $17.60.
That wasn't enough to keep the recent technology rally going, but Kravetz,
of U.S. Bank, said technology stocks should continue to do well because their
earnings are improving and both consumers and businesses are feeling more
comfortable spending. Tech stocks are at their highest levels since the dot-com
Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures rebounded, rising 86 cents, or 1.6 percent,
to $54.45 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for pricing
international oils, rose 61 cents to $56.58 a barrel in London.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline gained 2 cents to $1.53 a
gallon. Heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.66 a gallon. Natural gas picked up 3
cents to $2.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Boston Scientific sank after it said it will take all of its Lotus Valve
devices off the market and from clinical testing sites because of a
manufacturing problem. The device is intended to replace damaged or defective
aortic valves. Last year the company announced a similar problem with a related
Lotus product. Boston Scientific stock lost 73 cents, or 2.9 percent, to
$24.43, and competitor Edwards Lifescience jumped $3.55, or 3.8 percent, to
The dollar dipped to 112.75 yen from 113.12 yen. The euro inched up to
$1.0574 from $1.0568.
Britain's FTSE 100 index and Germany's DAX both declined 0.4 percent and the
French CAC 40 slid 0.1 percent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost less than 0.1
percent and the Kospi of South Korea finished 0.1 percent higher. Hong Kong's
Hang Seng shed 0.4 percent.