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Weak earnings and rising bond yields send US stocks down 

By on October 25, 2017

NEW YORK – Rising bond yields and a string of weak company reports and forecasts pushed stocks lower Wednesday as major indexes retreated from their recent record highs. Industrial and technology companies and banks fared the worst.

Companies including telecom giant AT&T, aerospace company Boeing, chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices and credit card issuer Discover Financial Services all gave shaky results, disappointing forecasts, or both. That sent stocks downward, and in early afternoon trading the Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 190 points, after setting a record the day before. Stocks recovered some of their losses in afternoon trading, but all 11 industry sectors in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index finished the day lower.

FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2014, file photo, people walk to work on Wall Street beneath a statue of George Washington, in New York. Stock markets around the world remained buoyed Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, by a seeming further easing in tensions between the United States and North Korea, which has helped investors rediscover their appetite for riskier assets following last week’s aversion. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Bond yields jumped to seven-month highs after a report from the Commerce Department showed orders for long-lasting manufactured goods and business investment grew in September. That’s good news for the economy, but it actually hurt stocks Wednesday, said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Equity Research, because it might lead to greater inflation.

“Higher yields (and) a string of positive returns from the market combined with some weak earnings numbers gave investors some reasons to attempt to take profits,” he said. Stocks have risen for each of the last six weeks and repeatedly set new highs.

The S&P 500 shed 11.98 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,557.15. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 112.30 points, or 0.5 percent, to 23,329.46. The Nasdaq composite sank 34.54 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,563.89. The Russell 2000 index, which is comprised of smaller-company stocks, dropped 6.94 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,493.48.

The Commerce Department said orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose 2.2 percent last month, much more than analysts expected. Much of the improvement came from greater sales of commercial aircraft. A key category that tracks business investment grew for the third month in a row.

Despite the gains in aircraft sales, a solid third-quarter report and a boost in its profit forecast, Boeing stock slumped $7.58, or 2.8 percent, to $258.42 Wednesday. It’s almost doubled in value in the last 12 months. Elsewhere in the industrial sector, defense contractor General Dynamics lost $4.83, or 2.3 percent, to $207.25. The company’s technology and marine systems businesses reported lower sales compared to a year ago, falling far short of estimates.

General Electric declined for the third day in a row and finished at a four-and-a-half-year low as it lost 39 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $21.50.

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices dropped $1.92, or 13.5 percent, to $12.33 after its fourth-quarter forecasts disappointed investors. Network equipment maker Juniper Networks also issued a mediocre forecast and its stock lost $1.60, or 6.1 percent, to $24.56.

Bond prices fell again. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.44 percent from 2.42 percent. That put pressure on companies that pay large dividends, like telecommunications companies, utilities, and food and beverage makers. Those stocks tend to do better when bond yields are down, as that makes the stocks more attractive to investors who are looking for income.

Many of those companies were hurt by weak results as well. AT&T lost $1.37, or 3.9 percent, to $33.49 after it reported a smaller profit and less revenue than Wall Street expected in the third quarter. Dr Pepper Snapple tumbled $4.19, or 4.7 percent, to $85.52. The 7UP maker’s profit and sales were weaker than expected. It cut its profit forecast for the year because of higher costs as well as expenses from its purchase of energy drink maker Bai Brands.

While rising bond yields and interest rates usually help bank stocks, that was canceled out by disappointing earnings reports. Discover Financial Services lost $2.24, or 3.3 percent, to $65.15 as the credit card issuer and lender set aside more money to cover potential losses on bad loans. Regional bank Huntington Bancshares fell 33 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $13.88.

Benchmark U.S. crude shed 29 cents to $52.18 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 11 cents to $58.44 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.73 a gallon. Heating oil remained at $1.82 a gallon. Natural gas fell 6 cents to $2.92 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold inched up 70 cents to $1,279 an ounce. Silver lost 4 cents to $16.93 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $3.18 a pound.

The dollar rose to 113.72 yen from 113.58 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1807 from $1.1788. The British pound rose to $1.3255 from $1.3136.

Britain’s FTSE 100 dipped 1.1 percent as investors felt a stronger-than-expected report on economic growth makes it more likely the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month. France’s CAC 40 fell 0.4 percent and the DAX in Germany lost 0.5 percent.

The Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5 percent as a 16-day winning streak for Japanese stocks came to an end. The index rose 7.2 percent over that period, its longest winning streak since World War II. The South Korean Kospi added 0.1 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5 percent.

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