U.S. Stocks Close Slightly Lower, Trimming Earlier Losses

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. stocks closed slightly lower Wednesday, making up much of the ground they lost earlier following a rare batch of earnings disappointments by Walt Disney and other big companies.

Consumer-focused stocks, media companies and banks accounted for much of the market decline. They outweighed gains in health care stocks and elsewhere. Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market.

Investors’ unease over escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea had weighed on stocks earlier in the day, pushing gold and bond prices slightly higher. But by the end of the day, traders appeared to take the geopolitical drama in stride.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.90 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,474.02. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 36.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,048.70. Earlier, the average had been down more than 88 points. The Nasdaq composite lost 18.13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,352.33. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,396.95, the lowest level in two months.

On Tuesday, President Trump warned North Korea of “fire and fury” in response to recent threats from Pyongyang. Investors reacted by driving up the price of gold and bonds, traditional safe-haven plays. But the moves were modest.

Gold added $16.70, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $1,279.30 an ounce. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.25 percent from 2.26 percent late Tuesday.

Disappointing company earnings and outlooks put traders in a selling mood.

Priceline Group slid 6.9 percent after the online travel booking service issued a profit forecast that was weaker than analysts were expecting. The stock lost $142.20 to $1,906.80.

Disney dropped 3.9 percent, its biggest single-day loss in more than a year. The stock lost $4.15 to $102.83. Netflix also fell, giving up $2.58, or 1.4 percent, to $175.78.

Shares in several other big media companies also declined. Discovery Communications fell 70 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $23.60. Viacom slid 60 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $30.17.

Fossil tumbled 25.1 percent after the watch maker said sales continued to weaken, falling short of analysts’ estimates. The company booked a hefty charge and said its CFO is leaving the company. The stock lost $2.97 to $8.87.

Health care stocks, which have been in a slump, posted gains. Humana rose $4.74, or 1.9 percent, to $254.96.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 1.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 slid 1.4 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares declined 0.6 percent. Major indexes in Asia closed lower. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent, while Seoul’s Kospi fell 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 39 cents to settle at $49.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 56 cents to $52.70 in London.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.62 a gallon, heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.65 a gallon and natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.88 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Silver gained 47 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $16.86 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $2.93 a pound.

The dollar fell to 109.85 yen from 110.48 yen late Tuesday. The euro held steady at $1.1752.