Health-Care Stocks Skid, Keeping Dow Short of 20,000 Mark

NEW YORK (AP) -
Gregory Rowe follows stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 21, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

U.S. stock indexes are slightly lower on Wednesday as health-care companies and banks slip. Household goods makers, including companies that sell snacks and drinks, are bouncing back from losses a day ago. The Dow Jones industrial average remains near record highs, but short of the 20,000-point milestone.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow dipped 19 points, or 0.1 percent, to 19,956 as of 12:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,268. The Nasdaq composite fell 9 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,474. More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading remains light.

HEALTH WOES: Cancer drug maker Celgene dipped $2.50, or 2.1 percent, to $116.02 and health insurance company Anthem lost $2.72, or 1.8 percent, to $144.94 as health-care stocks fell. The S&P 500 health-care index is down about 4.5 percent this year. It’s the only sector that is currently lower than it was at the end of 2015.

FINANCIALS FALLING: Banks also slipped. Goldman Sachs fell $2.57, or 1 percent, to $240.52, the biggest loss among the 30 stocks in the Dow average. Goldman has done far better than any other Dow stock since the presidential election in November and it’s trading near its all-time high.

LOST IN THE MAIL: Shipping company FedEx said its quarterly expenses climbed and its earnings fell short of Wall Street estimates. The company’s stock lost $4.70, or 2.4 percent, to $194.04.

LOGGING OFF: Twitter slumped after Chief Technology Officer Adam Messinger said he’s leaving the company. The struggling company has seen a number of executives leave recently. Former Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain left in November. In October, Twitter said it would eliminate 9 percent of its workforce. Twitter fell 82 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $17.11.

MONSTER GAINS: Companies that make drinks, snacks, and other everyday household items traded higher. Monster Beverage rose $1.91, or 4.4 percent, to $45.45 and Oreo maker Mondelez added 56 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $44.88. The stocks dipped on Tuesday, partly because of weak earnings for General Mills. On Wednesday that stock recovered most of its losses and rose $1.38, or 2.2 percent, to $62.83.

SCOPING OUT A DEAL: Mobile gyroscope maker InvenSense said it will be acquired by Japan’s TDK Corp. for $13 a share, or $1.22 billion. That sent the stock to its highest price in almost a year and a half. InvenSense gained $1.91, or 17.6 percent, to $12.75.

THE SHOE FITS: Athletic apparel maker Nike gained 47 cents to $52.26 after its second-quarter profit and sales came in stronger than analysts expected. Nike is by far the worst performer on the Dow this year, as its stock has tumbled 17 percent in part thanks to competition with Under Armour. Investors fear the rivalry is affecting both companies.

THE HEAT IS ON: Natural gas companies made big gains thanks to a surge in the price of natural gas. The price of that fuel rose 25 cents, or 7.7 percent, to $3.51 per 1,000 cubic feet. Southwestern Energy jumped 78 cents, or 7.5 percent, to $11.16 and Chesapeake Energy gained 23 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $7.52.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude sank 24 cents to $53.06 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international benchmark, lost 33 cents to $55.02 a barrel in London. Still, energy companies made modest gains after two days of small losses. Among energy stocks, Halliburton added $1.08, or 2 percent, to $54.41 and Kinder Morgan picked up 37 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $21.14.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 117.68 yen from 118.04 yen. The euro rose to $1.0435 from $1.0377.

BONDS: Bond prices inched higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slid to 2.55 percent from 2.56 percent.

OVERSEAS: The CAC-40 in France gave up 0.3 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX were little changed. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.3 percent. The South Korean Kospi retreated 0.2 percent.