U.S. Stocks Dip as Banks and Energy Companies Fall


U.S. stocks are declining Friday morning as investors again look for safer places to put their money. Business-technology company Hewlett Packard Enterprises is falling after it announced weak sales. Bond prices are dropping and yields are rising. That’s sending interest rates lower, which hurts banks. High-dividend stocks are rising.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 20,754 as of 11:35 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,357. The Nasdaq composite sank 16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,819. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, slid 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,390.

The blue-chip Dow average has risen for 10 straight days. Other major indexes are mixed this week.

BONDS: Bond prices sank again. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slid to 2.31 percent from 2.39 percent. Lower bond yields push interest rates lower, which means banks will make less money on mortgages and other loans. Wells Fargo slipped 93 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $57.56, and Bank of America fell 34 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $24.24. Investment banks and insurers traded lower as well.

With yields down, investors bought phone-company and utility stocks, which pay large dividends similar to bonds. AT&T rose 29 cents to $42.24, and American Electric Power gained $1.01, or 1.5 percent, to $67.02.

HPE HURTING: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells data-center hardware and other commercial tech gear to big organizations, slumped after cutting its profit estimate for the year. It named several problems, including the strong dollar, expenses and other problems that it said will be “near-term.” The company’s quarterly sales dropped 10 percent and weren’t as strong as analysts had hoped. Its stock skidded $1.95, or 7.9 percent, to $22.71.

Chipmakers and other technology companies also lost ground.

METAL GAINS: Gold and silver continued to rise. Gold, which jumped 1.5 percent a day earlier, picked up 0.4 percent to $1,256 an ounce. The metal is trading at its highest price since just after the presidential election, although it’s down sharply from this summer. Silver added 1.2 percent to $18.34 an ounce, and copper inched higher after a steep loss the previous day. That helped mining companies trade higher.

PENNY IN FOR A POUNDING: Department-store operator J.C. Penney said it will close 130 to 140 stores and two distribution centers in the next few months. That’s about 14 percent of its stores. Penney also said it will offer voluntary early retirement plans to about 6,000 employees. The company is trying to cut costs as it competes with online retailers. Its stock gave up 57 cents, or 8.3 percent, to $6.29.

Competitor Nordstrom jumped after it disclosed a better-than-expected quarterly profit with help from strong sales online and at Nordstrom Rack. Its shares gained $2.41, or 5.5 percent, to $46.35. Kohl’s also rose $1.67, or 4.1 percent, to $42.58. The stock fell 2 percent Thursday after investors weren’t thrilled by the company’s fourth-quarter report.

PRISON COMPANIES KEEP SURGING: For-profit prison operator CoreCivic rose 95 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $34.95, and Geo Group added $1.70, or 3.6 percent, to $49.07. Late Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to continue doing business with private prison operators. That reversed an Obama administration policy that sent the stocks tumbling when it was announced in August.

The companies operate detention facilities used by Immigration and Customs enforcement as well as prisons, and they get about half their revenue from contracts with the federal government. Their stocks have soared since Donald Trump was elected president in November. Investors expected that the Obama-era policy would be reversed and that Trump’s policies toward immigration and criminal justice would strengthen their business. CoreCivic has climbed 140 percent since the election and Geo Group has doubled in value.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 38 cents to $54.07 a barrel. Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, fell 44 cents to $56.38 a barrel in London. Energy companies continued to trade lower. They’ve fallen sharply over the last month. The S&P 500 energy company index is down more than 6 percent this year, while the broader S&P is up 5.5 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slid to 112.27 yen from 112.75 yen. The euro rose to $1.0580 from $1.0574.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 slumped 1.3 percent, while the DAX in Germany fell 1 percent. In Britain, the FTSE 100 shed 0.4 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.6 percent. The Hang Seng of Hong Kong fell 0.5 percent.