U.S. Stocks Hit by Health Care Woes But Avoid Bigger Losses 

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks fell Friday as health- care and technology companies continued to report weak first-quarter results, but thanks to some late buying, they managed to avoid major losses.

Stocks opened lower and fell further throughout the morning. That followed a rout in European indexes. Late in the day bond prices rose again, sending yields lower and pushing investors to buy utility and phone company stocks.

The& Dow& Jones industrial average gave up 57.12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,773.64. It was down as much as 178 points earlier in the day. The S&P’s 500 index fell 10.51 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,065.30. The Nasdaq composite index lost 29.93 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,775.36. That was its seventh decline in a row.

Health-care companies took the biggest losses after a bout of weak earnings reports. Biotech drugmaker Gilead Sciences said its results were hurt by big discounts and rebates on its costly hepatitis C medicines, and its stock lost $8.79, or 9.1 percent, to $88.21. Rival biotech giant Amgen reported relatively solid results, but fell $2.26, or 1.4 percent, to $158.30.

Tech stocks continued to slide. Electronic storage company Seagate Technology lost $5.13, or 19.1 percent, to $21.77. Hard-drive maker Western Digital dropped $5.19, or 11.3 percent, to $40.87. Apple fell another $1.09, or 1.1 percent, to $93.75. Like the Nasdaq, Apple has fallen for seven days in a row.

Bond prices rose slightly, and yields continue to slip. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.82 percent from 1.83 percent. Utility companies made the biggest gains, as NextEra Energy added $1.11, or 1 percent, to $117.58.

While earnings hurt tech and health-care companies, better results at consumer companies sent those stocks higher. E-commerce giant Amazon said its revenue jumped 28 percent in the first quarter, and the company turned a far bigger profit than analysts expected. Cloud-based Amazon Web Services performed well. Amazon rose $57.59, or 9.6 percent, to $656.59.

Stocks in Europe took big losses. Official data showed the eurozone economy rose by a surprising 0.6 percent in the first quarter, but investors were concerned that inflation slipped in April. France’s CAC 40 fell 2.8 percent and Germany’s DAX lost 2.7 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 1.3 percent.

The yen continued to gain strength, as it has done over the last few months. It jumped Thursday after the Bank of Japan held off on implementing any new economic stimulus measures. On Friday the dollar fell to 106.73 yen from 108.09 yen. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday Friday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 1.5 percent and Seoul’s Kospi gave up 0.3 percent.

Metals prices continued to rise. Gold advanced $24.10, or 1.9 percent, to $1,290.50 an ounce and silver rose 23 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $17.82 an ounce. Gold is trading at 15-month highs. Copper picked up 5 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $2.28 a pound.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 11 cents to $45.92 a barrel in N.Y. Brent crude fell 1 cent to $48.13 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline lost 1 cent to $1.58 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $1.38 a gallon. Natural gas rose 10 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $2.18 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The euro rose to $1.1454 from $1.1351.

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