Stocks Mixed in Afternoon After Clawing Back Early Losses

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Stocks are mixed in afternoon trading on Thursday after clawing back from a broad decline earlier in the day. Yields on government bonds rose again. Crude oil climbed past $50 a barrel, the highest price since June. Health care companies and banks slumped.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 18 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,263 as of 1:17 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose one point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,161. The Nasdaq composite declined 9 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,307.

TWITTER TUMBLE: Twitter plunged $5.12, or nearly 21 percent, to $19.75 on reports that some companies that were believed to be interested in buying it will not. Rumors of a deal had sent Twitter up 33 percent in the 11 trading days through Wednesday.

MYLAN DOWN: Mylan slumped $1.48, or 4 percent, to $36.56 following reports the company overcharged Medicaid over five years for its EpiPen allergy treatment.

RETAIL ROUT: Wal-Mart shares fell $1.78, or 2.5 percent, to $69.89 after the world’s largest retailer said it expects no earnings per share growth in its next fiscal year and will slow its store expansion plans.

CHINA TROUBLE: Yum Brands fell $1.54, or 1.7 percent, to $87.08 after the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut reported a quarterly profit and sales late Wednesday that missed Wall Street expectations. The results were hurt in part by protests in China against Western businesses after a court invalidated some of China’s historic claims in the South China Sea.

RATE HIKE? The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest level since mid-April, fueling expectations that the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates soon. Super-low rates have helped fuel the seven-year bull market. On Friday, the government reports on non-farm job creation for September.

BONDS FALL, DOLLAR RISES: The price of government bonds continues to fall. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.74 percent from 1.71 percent. Higher yields are pulling money into dollars. The dollar rose to 104.01 yen, its highest level in a month, from 103.64 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1162 from $1.1212.

THE QUOTE: “There’s a flight to the dollar,” said James Abate, chief investment officer of Centre Asset Management. The jobless benefits number is “revising people’s expectations of the Fed raising interest rates.”

EUROPE’S DAY: Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC-40 each shed 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.5 percent.

BREXIT FACTOR: The British pound continued to drop on concerns that the country is moving ahead with its decision to leave the European Union and could exit the bloc’s tariff-free single market. The pound fell 0.8 percent to $1.2642, its lowest level since the June 23 vote to leave the EU.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.7 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6 percent.

ENERGY: Oil prices rose to their highest level since June. U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 40 cents to $50.23 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 62 cents to $52.48 a barrel in London.