Stocks Dip; S&P 500 on Pace for First Down Week in 4

stocks, markets, Wall Street
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Shares of department-store chains sank again Friday, hurt by more evidence that shoppers are turning away from them. A drop in Treasury yields also put pressure on bank stocks, and the weakness helped pull the Standard & Poor’s 500 index down modestly.

The S&P 500 is on pace for its first weekly loss in the last four, though it remains close to its record.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 fell 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,389 as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time, and is on pace for a 0.4 percent dip for the week. It nevertheless remains within half a percent of its record, set on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 30 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,889, and the Nasdaq composite fell 3 points, or 0. 1 percent, to 6,112. Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index lost 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,382.

NOSEDIVE: Nordstrom plunged $3.94, or 8.5 percent, to $42.27, the biggest loss in the S&P 500, after a key sales figure weakened last month by more than analysts had expected. It joined a long list of other department-store chains that have reported discouraging results recently, as their customers increasingly head online.

J.C. Penney fell 50 cents, or 9.4 percent, to $4.80 after it reported a loss for its latest quarter and weaker revenue than analysts had expected.

ELSEWHERE, WALLETS OPEN UP: Outside of department stores, shoppers picked up their spending last month, and retail sales rose 0.4 percent from March. That was below economists’ expectations, but it’s an acceleration from weak levels registered earlier in the year. It also may be an indication that the economy will indeed pick up from its early-year torpor, as many economists predict.

PRICES RISE: Consumer prices also picked up a bit of momentum in April. Prices rose 0.2 percent last month, following a drop of 0.3 percent in March, as energy prices climbed higher. But after excluding energy and food prices, inflation was weaker last month than economists were expecting.

The Federal Reserve is paying close attention to inflation as it raises interest rates off their record lows, particularly where it is after excluding energy and food prices, which can be volatile.

YIELDS: Bond yields dropped as Treasury prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.33 percent from 2.40 percent late Thursday. The two-year yield dropped to 1.29 percent from 1.34 percent, and the 30-year yield fell to 2.99 percent from 3.03 percent.

CASCADE EFFECT: Bank stocks have recently been trading in the opposite direction of Treasury yields, because a rise in interest rates would allow banks to make bigger profits from making loans.

Financial stocks in the S&P 500 fell 0.9 percent, most among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

On the winning side were utilities and telecom stocks, whose relatively big dividends look more attractive when bonds are paying less in interest.

HEALTHY GAIN: U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca jumped $2.58, or 8.3 percent, to $33.72 after the company reported results from a trial of a lung-cancer treatment.

MARKETS ABROAD: In Europe, the French CAC 40 rose 0.1 percent, the German DAX gained 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London picked up 0.4 percent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.4 percent, South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.5 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong ticked up by 0.1 percent.

GROUP OF SEVEN: Finance ministers from seven of the world’s advanced economies are gathering in Italy this weekend. The officials from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States are expected to discuss ways to promote economic growth. Also on the agenda: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will explain Trump’s plans to cut business taxes and regulations and outline the administration’s economic policies, including its stance on trade.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 24 cents to $47.59 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, dipped 18 cents to $50.59 a barrel.

Natural gas rose 3 cents to $3.41 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil was close to flat at $1.49 per gallon and wholesale gasoline rose a penny to $1.57 per gallon.

Gold rose $5.30 to $1,229.50 per ounce, silver gained 15 cents to $16.42 per ounce and copper added a penny to $2.52 per pound.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.0920 from $1.0866 late Thursday. The dollar slipped to 113.34 Japanese yen from 113.88 yen, and the British pound slipped to $1.2883 from $1.2890.

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