U.S. Stock Indexes Move Lower in Morning Trading; Oil Rises

(AP) —
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)

Real-estate investment trusts led a modest slide for U.S. stocks in morning trading Wednesday. The broad decline wiped out most of the gains from the day before, when the Nasdaq composite index closed at a record high. Trading was quiet in a light week of economic and company news before the New Year’s Day weekend.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 2 points, or 0.01 percent, to 19,942 as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,262. The Nasdaq slid 16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,470.

THE QUOTE: “This is just a little bit of back-and-forth, very thin trading action,” said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist, Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Nothing really new to trade on.”

SHORT THRIFT: Nvidia was down 3.4 percent after short seller Citron Research said it expects the chipmaker’s shares, which have tripled in value this year, to fall substantially. The stock fell $3.93 to $113.39.

POISON PILL: Fred’s dropped 4.3 percent on a published report indicating that the regional drugstore chain has adopted a “poison pill” to discourage an activist investor from interfering with the company’s plan to buy 865 Rite Aid stores. Rite Aid has to sell the stores in order to appease anti-trust regulators and close its $9.4 billion buyout deal with Walgreens Boots Alliance. Shares in Fred’s fell 85 cents to $18.78.

NOT FINE: Qualcomm slipped 1 percent after antitrust regulators in South Korea fined the company $865 million, claiming the chipmaker engaged in unfair sales practices, including refusing to let competitors license patents that are essential for chipmaking. The stock shed 69 cents to reach $66.55.

REITs: Several real estate investment trusts, or REITs, were trading lower. Simon Property Group shed $2.25, or 1.3 percent, to reach $173.71. Extra Space Storage fell 55 cents to $74.83. Ventas slid 66 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $60.87.

BANKS BOUNCE: Bank of New York Mellon notched the biggest gain in the S&P 500 index, rising 58 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $48.31. Goldman Sachs Group followed, adding $2.61, or 1.1 percent, to $244.17.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was 0.1 percent lower. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.4 percent. Earlier, in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 was flat. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.8 percent. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.9 percent. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 22 cents at $54.10 a barrel in New York. It rose 88 cents on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 17 cents at $57 a barrel in London. It gained 93 cents the day before.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.54 percent from 2.56 percent late Tuesday. In currency trading, the dollar continued to rise. It was trading at 117.62 yen, up from 117.45 on Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.0396 from $1.0458.

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