U.S. Stocks Back Away From Recent Gains as Banks Slump

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

U.S. stocks are falling Thursday and returning some of their gains from the last few days. Banks are skidding as bond yields fall and interest rates weaken. Mining and metals companies are also slipping, while lower bond yields are giving utility and phone companies a lift.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 58 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,947 as of 12:44 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,111. The NASDAQ composite declined 25 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,949. Stocks are still up for the week, and over the last few days the S&P 500 has reached its highest levels since last July. Oil prices have done the same.

BANKS BONK: Bond prices rose, sending the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note down to 1.68 percent from 1.70 percent a day earlier. Lower bond yields drive down interest rates on mortgages and other kinds of loans, making them less profitable for banks.

Mortgage agency Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell this week after three weeks of increases. Freddie Mac said the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped to 3.60 percent from 3.66 percent last week. A year ago the rate was 4.04 percent.

Bank of America gave up 29 cents, or 2 percent, to $14.14 and Capital One fell $1.52, or 2.1 percent, to $70.58.

METAL MISERY: Mining companies also weakened. Copper and gold producer Freeport-McMoRan fell 72 cents, or 6.2 percent, to $10.86 and aluminum company Alcoa slid 25 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $9.64.

OIL: U.S. crude shed 69 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $50.54 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, fell 58 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $51.93 a barrel in London.

POWERING UP: Utilities and phone company stocks made modest gains as bond yields fell. Those stocks are seen as similar to bonds because they pay large dividends, so the bond yields make them more appealing by comparison. Southern picked up 32 cents to $50.69 and Ameren advanced 80 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $50.48. AT&T added 11 cents to $39.97.

ECB WARNING: The president of the European Central Bank warned in a speech Thursday that the Eurozone economy needs governments to make more reforms if it is to see higher growth. Mario Draghi noted the central bank could not heal the economy on its own.

HARD TIMES FOR HARDWARE: Home furnishings retailer Restoration Hardware cut its forecast for the year after it reported weak quarterly results. The company said it’s facing weaker sales of luxury goods. Its stock lost $7.61, or 21.1 percent, to $28.46.

LET’S JAM: J.M. Smucker climbed after it reported strong fourth-quarter sales of coffee products and pet foods. The company also gave an optimistic profit forecast for the current fiscal year. Its stock added $10.07, or 7.6 percent, to $142.79.

BAD FIT: Menswear chain Tailored Brands reported disappointing first-quarter results as its Men’s Wearhouse brand struggled. The stock tumbled $3.31, or 21.3 percent, to $12.22.

FLYING HIGH: Airlines traded higher as oil prices drop, potentially reducing fuel costs. American Airlines added 71 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $33.22 and United Continental rose 66 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $46.35.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX fell 1.3 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 1.1 percent. France’s CAC 40 lost 1 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 1 percent after the government reported that domestic and foreign private machinery orders fell in April from the month before, which suggests capital investment remains weak. South Korea’s KOSPI was 0.1 percent lower.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 106.61 yen from 106.94 yen on Wednesday. The euro dropped to $1.1315 from $1.1397.

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