US stock indexes step back after a big gain; retailers climb
NEW YORK — U.S. stock indexes are mostly lower Friday, as technology companies decline a day after the market’s biggest gain in two months. Retailers including Ross Stores, Gap and Foot Locker are jumping after they reported strong quarterly results. Smaller companies are also rising.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,580 as of 3:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 85 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,372. The Nasdaq composite dipped 9 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,784 after it closed at a record high Thursday. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,493 and most of the companies on the New York Stock Exchange traded higher.
The S&P 500 is on track to finish slightly lower for the second week in a row. That follows an eight-week winning streak.
NO STICKER SHOCK: Ross Stores jumped $6.25, or 9.5 percent, to $71.94 after its profit and sales were greater than expected, and the company raised its forecast for the rest of the year. The discount retailer said its business remained strong even though it dealt with the effects of several major hurricanes. Gap, too, did better than expected as sales at Old Navy and Athleta improved and it cut spending. Its stock gained $2.18, or 7.9 percent, to $29.66.
Sporting goods retailers jumped following months of losses. Foot Locker had a solid quarter and said that in spite of high discounts, it expects to meet or “modestly exceed” its annual profit and sales forecasts. It surged $8.90, or 27.9 percent, to $40.75. Competitor Hibbett Sports raised its profit forecast and expects a smaller decline in an important sales measurement. Its stock climbed $2.45, or 16.5 percent, to $17.30. Foot Locker has fallen 42 percent this year and Hibbett has dropped 54 percent.
THE QUOTE: Investors have liked what they’ve seen from retailers the last two days. On Thursday Wal-Mart made its biggest gain in nine years after it made a strong quarterly report. Invesco Global Market Strategist Kristina Hooper said retailers are giving a double dose of good news. Consumers are spending more, and there are signs some companies are figuring out how to survive in a world where more and more sales are made online.
“Businesses are starting to evolve and alter their models and may be able to survive quite well in very changed circumstances,” she said. “This is only the beginning of what they’re going to need to do to stay competitive.”
YOU ARE WATCHING FOX: Comcast is in talks to buy Twenty-First Century Fox’s movie studio, some of its cable channels, and its international business. The Wall Street Journal and CNBC first reported Comcast’s interest. The talks are at an early stage and may not lead to a formal offer. The Journal reported that Verizon and Sony are also interested in some of Fox’s assets.
Reports last week said Disney recently discussed a deal with Fox for the same businesses Comcast is said to be interested in. Fox gained $1.59, or 5.4 percent, to $30.91 and Comcast fell 83 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $36.24. Verizon picked up 70 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $45.47.
FORCE-FUL RESPONSE: Electronic Arts stock dropped after the video game company announced a last-minute change to “Star Wars Battlefront II” right before its launch. EA turned off in-game purchases after fans complained about the cost of a feature that let them pay money to interact with characters including Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Earlier this week the company reduced the payments, but that didn’t quiet the uproar.
Those characters will now be available only after the players achieve certain targets within the game. EA said the change won’t affect its financial results. The stock fell $2.87, or 2.6 percent, to $108.73 and it’s down 9 percent this month.
Technology companies lagged the market. Microsoft 81 cents, or 1 percent, to $82.39 and Intel slipped 90 cents, or 2 percent, to $44.75.
DOLLAR DOWN: Gold and oil prices jumped as the dollar weakened to its lowest level in about a month. Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.41, or 2.6 percent, to $56.55 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.36, or 2.2 percent, to $62.72 a barrel in London.
Gold rose $18.30, or 1.4 percent, to $1,296.50 an ounce. Silver climbed 30 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $17.37 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $3.07 a pound.
The dollar fell to 112.13 yen from 112.98 yen. The euro rose to $1.1796from $1.1765.
OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.74 a gallon. Heating oil gained 4 cents to $1.95 a gallon. Natural gas climbed 4 cents to $3.10 per 1,000 cubic feet.
BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.35 percent from 2.38 percent.
OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 shed 0.3 percent and Germany’s DAX slid 0.4 percent. The British FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi ended was little changed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.6 percent.