Stocks Slip After Weak Economic Data From Europe

(Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

U.S. stocks are falling Wednesday as banks drop along with bond yields. That comes after the market slipped at the end of the previous day’s trading. Energy and industrial companies are also down. Investors are concerned about the European economy after a measure of business activity in the region fell to an 18-month low in May. Target is sliding after big investments in its operations cut into its first-quarter profit while Tiffany is soaring after issuing a strong report.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index shed 9 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,714 as of 11:40 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 126 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,708 as Goldman Sachs and American Express both took losses. The Nasdaq composite gave up 13 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,364. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks reversed an early decline and gained 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,626.

Stocks were higher for most of Tuesday but slipped late in the day.

EUROPE’S ECONOMY: A survey suggested that the eurozone’s economy might remain weak for longer than experts had expected. IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index, a broad gauge of business activity, fell to an 18-month low in May. The regional economy is still growing, but investors hoped to see a rebound after the first quarter of the year.

Germany’s DAX gave up 1.6 percent and France’s CAC 40 fell 1.4 percent while the British FTSE 100 lost 1.1 percent.

BONDS: Bond prices climbed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.01 percent from 3.06 percent. With interest rates in decline, banks lost ground. Citigroup fell 2 percent to $69.69 and Bank of American lost 2 percent to $30.26.

Banks climbed Tuesday as Congress prepared to vote on a bill that eased some of the regulations passed after the 2008 financial crisis. The legislation passed the House Tuesday evening and President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law. Real estate investment trusts, utilities, and other stocks that pay large dividends rose. Those stocks are often considered alternatives to bonds, and investors who want income often buy them when bond yields decrease.

RETAIL DETAILS: Target slumped after its first-quarter profit fell short of expectations. The big-box retailer said more customers came to its stores and sales improved, but it’s spending a lot of money to try to reinvent itself to better compete with Amazon. Target plans to spend $7 billion through 2020 to update stores and open smaller locations in urban markets. The stock sank 5.3 percent to $71.50.

Tiffany sparkled in the first quarter as the jewelry company’s earnings and sales blew past Wall Street projections. The company also said it’s planning to buy back $1 billion in its own stock. The stock jumped 18.8 percent to $121.50.

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s had a mostly disappointing first quarter as harsh winter weather cut into the traditional spring sales season, but the company forecast stronger sales growth for the rest of the year. The stock surged 10 percent to $94.30. Lowe’s stock and its sales have lagged behind Home Depot, but it made up ground on Wednesday.

Also rising after its quarterly report was Ralph Lauren, which jumped 16.3 percent to $135.66.

CABLE HOOKUP: Comcast said it is preparing an all-cash offer for Twenty-First Century Fox’s entertainment and international divisions, and said it plans to bid more than the $52.4 billion Disney offered. Comcast didn’t disclose other details about its plans. Fox rose 1.2 percent to $38.60, Comcast fell 1.4 percent to $32.05, and Disney slid 1.5 percent to $102.50.

Buying those Fox businesses would help Disney compete with technology companies in the entertainment business.

NOT WELL DONE: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers tumbled after the company’s quarterly profit was much smaller than analysts anticipated. Its sales also fell short of estimates and the stock tumbled 17.8 percent to $47.65.

UN-PACKED: While Hewlett Packard Enterprise reported a larger profit and more revenue than expected, analysts said much of the company’s strength came from a lower tax rate, and they weren’t impressed by results from some of its businesses. Mehdi Hosseini of Susquehanna Financial Group said the company’s less profitable products are doing better than higher margin items like high performance computing devices. The stock lost 9.9 percent to $15.68.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 1 percent to $71.46 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 0.8 percent to $78.91 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dropped to 110.06 yen from 111.02 yen. The euro fell to $1.1704 from $1.1779.

ASIA: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 1.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.8 percent.

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