U.S. Stocks Slide as Health Care and Energy Companies Slip


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Stocks are lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street Wednesday after giving up an early gain.

Energy companies are down as the price of crude oil falls for the third time in four days after a strong start to 2019.

Drug and infant formula maker Abbott Laboratories is leading health-care stocks lower after its sales fell short of Wall Street’s estimates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had jumped 296 points earlier as investors cheered strong fourth-quarter earnings reports from companies including IBM, consumer products maker Proctor & Gamble, and manufacturer United Technologies.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index lost 17 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,615 as of 12:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 70 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,333. The Nasdaq composite fell 56 points, or 0.8 percent, to 6,963. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,446.

The S&P 500 fell 1.4 percent Tuesday as investors reacted to signs of slower global economic growth, including a weakened forecast from the International Monetary Fund. They also worried about possible trouble in trade talks between the U.S. and China.

QUARTERLY QUEASINESS: Abbott, which makes Ensure and Pedialyte nutritional shakes, heart devices and medications, fell 3.1 percent to $69.30 after its revenue disappointed investors. Credit card issuer Capital One shed 6.5 percent to $78.01 after its profit and revenue both fell short of expectations.

EARN, BABY, EARN: IBM rocketed 7.56 percent to $131.88 after its fourth-quarter results surpassed Wall Street estimates. Investors were also pleased with the company’s forecasts for 2019. BMO Research analyst Keith Bachman said critical operations including IBM’s business and technology services divisions did well in the quarter. IBM stock sank 25 percent in 2018.

Tide, Bounty and Crest maker Procter & Gamble rallied 4.1 percent to $94.15 after its profit came out ahead of expectations and its sales were well above analyst forecasts as well. The company said its annual profit and sales could be slightly stronger than it previously expected.

Elevator and jet engine maker United Technologies rose 3.6 percent to $115.02 following its report, while media company Comcast jumped 4.2 percent to $36.44 after it picked up more internet subscribers and got a revenue boost from Sky, its big bet on European TV.

U.S. company profits got a big boost in 2018 after the passage of the Republican-backed corporate tax cut. While the law lowered corporate tax rates permanently, it contributed to a one-time increase in profit growth. A period of strong global economic growth also helped company profits last year, although that has been fading.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.74 percent from 2.73 percent.

SAM’S BACK IN SYNCH: Consumer credit company Synchrony Financial said it’s settling a lawsuit filed by Walmart in November, and extending a deal to provide branded credit cards for Walmart’s Sam’s Club business. Synchrony is also selling its portfolio of Walmart’s loans to Capital One. Its stock rose 9.1 percent to $28.96.

U.S–CHINA RELATIONS: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow denied reports by media outlets including the Financial Times and CNBC saying the U.S. had turned down an offer by Chinese trade officials to meet in Washington this week, due to a lack of progress on issues such as protection of intellectual property. Kudlow said both sides are working toward the higher-level talks. The reports, citing unnamed sources close to the matter, said the discussions were meant to pave the way for meetings between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer next week.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil lost 1.9 percent to $51.98 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 1.8 percent to $60.38 per barrel in London.

OVERSEAS: The British FTSE 100 gave up 0.8 percent. France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent, and the German DAX shed 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index shed 0.1 percent after the Bank of Japan kept its short and long term interest rates intact as expected, but lowered its inflation forecasts. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was almost flat.

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