U.S. Stocks Take Biggest Loss In Six Weeks, Led By Banks 

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks sunk to their biggest loss in a month and a half Thursday as banks and technology companies tumbled. Interest rates moved lower, hurting financial stocks. The dollar continued to fall compared to the Japanese yen. Stocks have fallen three out of four days this week.

Stocks sharply reversed course after their gains a day ago. Financial companies including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup took the largest losses. Technology and telecommunications companies also fell. The market has lost momentum over the last few weeks after a furious rally that wiped out most of its losses from early 2016.

The Dow& Jones industrial average fell 174.09 points, or 1 percent, to 17,541.96. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed 24.75 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,041.91. The Nasdaq composite index lost 72.35 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,848.37.

Financial companies fell sharply. Goldman Sachs slid $4.78, or 3.1 percent, to $150.41 and Citigroup lost $1.59, or 3.8 percent, to $40.27 while JPMorgan Chase dipped $1.49, or 2.5 percent, to $57.32. Wren said banks are struggling because economic growth is sluggish and interest rates remain low, which means they can’t make as much money from lending.

“Interest rates aren’t going to do what banks really need them to do,” he said.

eBay led tech stocks lower as it fell $1.33, or 5.2 percent, to $24.10 and Apple gave up $2.42, or 2.2 percent, to $108.54. Telecommunications companies continued to struggle. Verizon fell $1.52, or 2.8 percent, to $52.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.69 percent from 1.76 percent. The dollar continued to weaken against the yen, and is now at its lowest compared to the yen in almost a year and a half. On Thursday it fell to 108.24 yen from 109.62 yen. The euro declined to $1.1377 from $1.1410.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 49 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $37.26 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 41 cents to $39.43 a barrel in London.

Wholesale club operator Costco declined after the company disclosed its March sales. Its stock fell $4.74, or 3 percent, to $152.03. Retailer Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Holdings traded higher after it announced solid quarterly results. The stock climbed $2.34, or 10.3 percent, to $25.04.

Used car dealership chain CarMax reported strong fourth-quarter results, but its stock lost $3.81, or 7.1 percent, to $49.48. The company said it faced a tougher sales environment in the second half of the fiscal year.

The price of gold rose $13.70 or 1.1 percent, to settle at $1,237.50 an ounce and silver gained 10 cents to $15.16 an ounce. Copper plunged seven cents, or 3.1 percent, to $2.08 a pound.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.38 a gallon. Heating oil slipped 1 cent to $1.13 a gallon. Natural gas rose 11 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $2.02 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week. That shows employers aren’t slashing jobs despite signs economic growth is weak.

Germany’s DAX fell 1 percent and the CAC-40 in France shed 0.9 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.4 percent. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.2 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.3 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi added 0.1 percent.