Stocks Move Lower as Investors Digest Earnings

NEW YORK (AP) -

Stocks were moving between slight gains and losses in afternoon trading Thursday, as traders focused on a large batch of earnings reports from U.S. companies, including Facebook and Merck.

Ryder System, a truck leasing company, fell 8 percent after reporting earnings that fell far short of what Wall Street analysts were expecting. Ralph Lauren plunged 12 percent after announcing that Stefan Larsson, who took over as CEO for Ralph Lauren less than two years ago, is leaving the company.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 19,857 as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,276; and the Nasdaq composite lost 16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,626. Rising and falling stocks were about evenly split on the New York Stock Exchange.

LAUNDERED: Clothing company Ralph Lauren sank $10.11, or 11 percent, to $77.27 after the company’s CEO unexpectedly departed the company, after less than two years in the position. Stefan Larsson came from Old Navy and had been charged with turning around the iconic clothing brand as its founder continues step back from the company.

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS: Investors are looking to Friday’s closely watched jobs report, the first that will be under the tenure of President Trump. Economists expect employers created 175,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent.

Along with being important to investors as an economic indicator, the report is likely to be politically fraught. President Trump has called for measuring unemployment in different ways, through non-traditional metrics like the labor participation rate or the unemployment rate that includes measurements of workers in part-time jobs who want full-time work.

NOT LIKED: Facebook shares were down $2.31, or 1.7 percent, to $130.99, despite the company reporting results that easily exceeded analysts’ expectations. The company continues to see huge growth in mobile and video advertising, which has bolstered its bottom line.

OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX slipped 0.3 percent while the CAC 40 in France fell 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.5 percent higher.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices were mostly unchanged with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note holding steady at 2.47 percent. The euro slipped to $1.0773 from $1.0774, and the dollar fell to 112.77 yen from 113.09 yen.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 3 cents to $53.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose 12 cents to $56.92 a barrel in London.