Banks led a broad sell-off in U.S. stocks Wednesday, placing the market on track for its fifth consecutive loss. Traders sent government bond prices higher, pulling down yields. Technology stocks also took heavy losses. Energy stocks gave up an early gain even as crude oil prices headed higher after a lengthy skid.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 29 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,692 as of 1:49 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 283 points, or 1.1 percent, to 25,002. The Nasdaq composite dropped 77 points, or 1.1 percent, to 7,123. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 12 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,502. The benchmark S&P 500 index is coming off a four-day losing streak.
THE QUOTE: “We’re still … contending with the implications of the sell-off from October,” said David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management. “The market is still somewhat unsettled and somewhat volatile as investors digest that move and reposition for what they think will happen next.”
BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.10 percent from 3.14 percent late Tuesday. The drop in bond yields, which affect interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, helped pull bank shares lower. Citizens Financial Group dropped 4.5 percent to $36.04.
OIL REBOUND: The price of U.S. crude oil was moving higher a day after it had its steepest drop in more than three years. Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 1.5 percent to $56.55 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 1.6 percent to $66.49 a barrel in London.
Oil had fallen for 12 straight days as of Tuesday, driven by worries over rising oil production around the world and weakening demand from developing countries.
Natural gas, meanwhile, soared 16.5 percent to $4.78 per 1,000 cubic feet.
TECH SLIDE: Technology stocks took some of the heaviest losses. Apple lost 2.6 percent to $187.25.
SCORCHED: Shares in Pacific Gas & Electric sank 25.1 percent to $24.52, extending the electric utility’s steep slide this week. The company told regulators last week that it experienced a problem on a transmission line in an area of Northern California where a deadly wildfire erupted last week. People who lost homes in the blaze sued PG&E Tuesday, accusing the utility of negligence and blaming it for the fire. PG&E’s slide led a broad sell-off in utilities stocks.
RETAIL THERAPY: Macy’s slid 5.8 percent to $33.71 as traders grew concerned that the department store chain may have difficulty keeping up its streak of sales gains, even after the company upped its annual earnings expectations.
UNDERCOOKED: Blue Apron shares declined 4.1 percent to $1.17 after the meal kit shipping company issued a disappointing fourth-quarter outlook and said it is taking “strategic actions” that included slashing 4 percent of its workforce.
LUXURIOUS FIT: Canada Goose Holdings climbed 7.8 percent to $63.17 after the high-end coat maker reported earnings and revenue that beat analysts’ forecasts.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.49 yen from 113.86 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1295 from $1.1268.
OVERSEAS: Major stock indexes in Europe fell, giving up early gains. Germany’s DAX dropped 0.5 percent, while France’s CAC lost 0.7 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched up 0.2 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.7 percent. South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent.