Stocks Sag Following Disappointing Earnings Reports

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(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Stock markets around the world sagged on Friday after Amazon and several other big companies reported quarterly results that underwhelmed investors.

Tobacco stocks were some of the worst performers, after the U.S. government said it may consider limiting the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. Treasury yields dipped after the government said the U.S. economy accelerated in the spring but also revised down its growth for the first quarter.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell nearly 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,471, as of noon Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 6 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 21,803, and added to its record set on Thursday. The Nasdaq composite lost 11, or 0.2 percent, to 6,370.

EARNINGS ROUNDUP: Roughly half the companies in the S&P 500 have reported how much they earned during the spring, and the results have been mostly encouraging. But expectations were high coming into the reporting season, and companies have been punished for falling short of forecasts.

Technology stocks came into the reporting season with particularly big expectations. They have already jumped more than 20 percent this year on the hope that they can produce strong earnings growth despite a still-slow-growing global economy.

AMAZON: Earnings for the online retailer fell short of expectations, and its forecast for operating income this fiscal year was below many analysts’ forecasts. Revenue for the latest quarter beat expectations, though. Amazon’s stock fell $27.48, or 2.6 percent, to $1,018.52.

ECONOMIC UPDATE: The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the April-June quarter, the Commerce Department reported. A rise in consumer spending helped to rev up the economy during the spring.

Last quarter’s growth rate was more than double that of the year’s first quarter, which was revised down to 1.2 percent.

“Overall, the economy continues to move along, but it’s hard to see where the fuel is going to come from for further acceleration,” said Rich Weiss, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies at American Century Investments. He says the economy reminds him of what golfers call a “son-in-law” shot, one that’s not bad but not great.

Weiss said he prefers stocks in Europe and elsewhere around the world in part on expectations that their economies have more potential for improvement than the United States. Many other investors have also been putting money into foreign stocks instead of their U.S. counterparts, and the falling value of the dollar against other currencies has helped boost their returns.

STUBBED: Stocks of cigarette makers plunged after the Food and Drug Administration said it plans to begin talks about whether to cut the amount of nicotine in cigarettes so that they’re no longer addictive.

Altria Group, which sells Marlboro and other cigarettes in the U.S., fell $7.05, or 9.5 percent, to $66.91. It had been down as much as 18.9 percent shortly after the announcement.

STOPPED UP: Flowserve, which sells pumps, valves and other parts for the oil and gas industries, dropped to one of the biggest losses in the S&P 500 after reporting weaker earnings for the latest quarter than Wall Street had forecast. It sank $4.78, or 10.3 percent, to $41.58.

ROASTED: Starbucks fell $5.10, or 8.6 percent, to $54.40 after it lowered its forecast for earnings this fiscal year. The company said that sales growth at its coffee shops began softening after April. It also said it will close all 379 of its Teavana retail stores after attempts to redesign them and use more creative merchandising failed to boost performance.

PEELED: Goodyear Tire & Rubber sank $4.11, or 11.6 percent, to $31.37 after it reported revenue and earnings for the latest quarter that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

PLAYED OUT: Toy maker Mattel fell $1.85, or 8.8 percent, to $19.45 after it reported weaker results than analysts had expected. Revenue also fell short of forecasts.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.29 percent from 2.32 percent late Thursday. The two-year yield dipped to 1.35 percent from 1.36 percent, and the 30-year yield dropped to 2.91 percent from 2.93 percent.

TAKE CARE: Health-care stocks in the S&P 500 dipped, but by less than the rest of the market, after the Senate failed in its latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Investors had come into the year with big expectations for the federal government to push through a series of policies to help businesses, but Washington’s stumbles have raised doubts about whether tax reform or a big infrastructure plan will happen.

MARKETS ABROAD: Stock markets were weak around the world. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.6 percent, South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.7 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.6 percent.

France’s CAC 40 lost 1.1 percent, the FTSE 100 in London fell 1 percent and Germany’s DAX dropped 0.4 percent

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.88 Japanese yen from 111.09 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1746 from $1.1681, and the British pound rose to $1.3125 from $1.3070.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 64 cents to $49.68, capping a strong week in which it reached its highest level since May. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 64 cents to $52.16 a barrel.

Gold gained $8.40 to $1,268.40 per ounce, silver added 1 cents to $16.70 per ounce and copper was close to flat at $2.88 per pound.

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