US stocks waver as investors back away from industrials

NEW YORK (AP) — Major U.S. indexes are mixed Thursday as investors sell industrial companies, which have surged over the last few months. They are selling stocks that are tightly linked to economic growth and buying gold, bonds, and companies that pay big dividends, like utilities. Technology companies are trading lower, which could end a 15-day winning streak for the sector.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 49 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,825 as of 2:55 p.m. Eastern time. The blue-chip index has risen over the past nine trading days. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,364. The Nasdaq composite lost 26 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,834. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks tumbled 10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,393.

SLOW YOUR ROLL: 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 $2.49, or 2.5 percent, to $95.71, its biggest loss since September. United Rentals shed $7.15, or 5.6 percent, to $120.91.

The price of copper fell 3.3 percent to $2.64 a pound. That was 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 $3.27, or 8.1 percent, to $37.22.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.39 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 70 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $31.49. Realty Income, which owns properties used by retailers like drugstores and discount stores, gained $1.57, or 2.6 percent, to $62.71.

A BAD FIT: L Brands, the owner of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, tumbled after it said sales in February 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 this month. The stock gave up $9.09, or 15.6 percent, to $49.04.

TALKING TURKEY: Wall Street was disappointed with Hormel Foods’ first-quarter profit and sales. The company said low turkey prices hurt its Jennie-O Turkey store business. Hormel cut its annual profit estimate because it expects those prices to remain weak. The stock fell $1.75, or 4.7 percent, to $35.55.

PC POWER: 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 $1.44, or 8.9 percent, to $17.64.

RECALL WOES: 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 product, its Lotus Edge Valve System. Boston Scientific stock lost 63 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $24.53.

Competitor Edwards Lifescience jumped $4.12, or 4.5 percent, to $96.33.

FAIR AND SQUARE: Mobile payments processor Square jumped after it reported a larger profit than analysts expected. Wall Street was also pleased with the company’s forecasts for 2017. Square stock rose $1.78, or 11.8 percent, to $16.82 and reached an all-time high. The company went public in November 2015.

ENERGY: 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.

SWITCHING COURSE: Communications technology company Arris gave a weak sales forecast. The company also said it will team up with Broadcom to buy Brocade Communications’ Ruckus Wireless and ICX Switch business for about $800 million. Wall Street appeared to take a dim view of that move.

“We’re afraid they’re buying a business that’s too far afield from their core business,” said Jefferies analyst George Notter.

Arris stock dropped $4.54, or 14.8 percent, to $26.16.

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.

OTHER METALS TRADING: Gold jumped $18.10, or 1.5 percent, to $1,251.40 an ounce and silver rose 17 cents to $18.12 an ounce.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 112.71 yen from 113.12 yen. The euro held steady at $1.0568.

OVERSEAS: 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.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay

This post originally appeared on Townhall

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