Tech Companies Lead U.S. Stocks Lower in Afternoon Trading

(AP) -
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Technology companies led a broad slide for U.S. stocks in afternoon trading on Wednesday. Consumer-focused companies also accounted for a big slice of the losses. Energy stocks declined as the price of crude oil headed lower a day after its biggest loss since October. Investors were weighing a batch of economic data and company earnings, while keeping an eye on Washington as lawmakers began to push a tax cut bill through Congress.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 8 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,570 as of 1 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 86 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,332. The Nasdaq composite slid 21 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,716. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,468.

TAX OVERHAUL: Investors were keeping an eye on Washington D.C., where Senate Republicans were pushing their version of a major tax overhaul that would slash corporate taxes. Expectations of a big business tax cut have helped lift the market higher this year. But the Senate measure was complicated by the last-minute inclusion of a repeal of the section of the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans to get insurance coverage.

ECONOMIC SNAPSHOTS: Traders were also weighing new government data on inflation, retail sales and manufacturing. The Labor Department said consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent last month, the smallest gain in three months. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2 percent in October. And a closely watched report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed manufacturing expanded at a slower pace this month in New York, but remained at a healthy level.

REBOOT: Technology sector stocks, which have done far better than the rest of the market this year, were taking some of the biggest losses. Chipmaker Nvidia lost $4.74, or 2.2 percent, to $209.44. Macom Solutions Technology Holdings slumped 16.3 percent after the chipmaker’s latest quarterly results fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The stock gave up $5.95 to $30.66.

MISSING THE MARK: Target slumped 9.2 percent after the retailer issued a weak profit forecast for the quarter including the year-end shopping season. The stock was down $5.50 to $54.59.

IN A SELLING MOOD: IBM shares were down 0.8 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed that it sold another chunk of the technology company’s stock. IBM declined $1.19 to $147.70.

HOME SWEET HOME: Beazer Homes USA climbed 3.2 percent after the homebuilder posted a far-larger profit and stronger sales than analysts expected. The stock gained 68 cents to $22.24.

OIL SLIDE: Crude oil prices pared some of their early losses. Benchmark U.S. crude was down 36 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $55.34 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was off 23 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $61.98 a barrel in London. A report from the International Energy Agency pointing to strong production growth in the years ahead, particularly in the U.S., has weighed on oil prices this week. That’s pulled down energy stocks, such as Hess. The stock was down $1.46, or 3.3 percent, to $43.45.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.34 percent from 2.37 percent late Tuesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.08 yen from 113.40 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1800 from $1.1794.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 percent, while the CAC 40 in France slid 0.3 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.6 percent lower. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index tumbled 1.6 percent as manufacturers’ shares were stung by a stronger yen. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.0 percent, while Australia’s S&P ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent. The Kospi of South Korea declined 0.3 percent.