After a Listless Day, S&P 500 Marks Its 3rd Straight Loss


Stocks finished modestly lower Thursday, closing out another listless day of trading on Wall Street with a third straight loss for the market.

Technology, energy and consumer products companies pulled down the market, offsetting gains in consumer goods, utilities and real estate stocks.

Investors weighed a government report that showed economic growth slowed at the end of last year. Traders also eyed a mixed batch of corporate earnings reports.

Despite a sluggish few days, the benchmark S&P 500 index still gained 11.1 percent over January and February, its best start to a year since 1991. The index has posted a monthly gain nine out of the past 12 months.

The S&P 500 index slipped 7.89 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,784.49. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 69.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,916. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 21.98 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,532.53.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 5.50 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,575.55. Major indexes in Europe closed mostly higher. South Korean stocks fell after talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended abruptly without an agreement.

Investors are still waiting for more details on trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has raised doubts about progress, telling lawmakers that “much still needs to be done” before the sides can reach an agreement over Beijing’s technology strategy and other issues.

The latest snapshot of the U.S. economy shows that it grew in the fourth quarter at its slowest pace since the beginning of 2018. The growth still beat economists’ forecasts, however, which sent bond yields higher. A bright spot in the latest report shows that for the full year, the economy grew at its fastest pace since 2015.

On Thursday, several tech companies reported subpar quarterly results.

Results from other companies put traders in a buying mood.

Monster Beverage rose 8.7 percent on strong sales growth for its signature energy drinks. The higher drink sales pushed revenue and profit beyond Wall Street forecasts and the company plans to buy back $500 million in stock.

J.C. Penney surged 22.6 percent, it’s second-biggest one-day gain, after the department store operator beat investor forecasts for the fourth-quarter. The company, which has been closing stores for years, said it would shutter another 18 department stores, as well as nine home and furniture stores.

U.S. crude rose 0.5 percent to settle at $57.22 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 0.5 percent to close at $66.03 a barrel in London.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.72 percent from 2.69 percent late Wednesday.

The dollar rose to 111.42 yen from 110.04 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1379 from $1.1370.

Gold fell 0.4 percent to $1,316.10 an ounce. Silver dropped 0.8 percent to $15.63 an ounce. Copper declined 0.5 percent to $2.95 a pound.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline slid 0.3 percent to $1.63 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.1 percent to $2.02 a gallon. Natural gas gained 0.5 percent to $2.81 per 1,000 cubic feet.