U.S. Stocks Fall, Bond Prices Rise as Investors Turn Cautious

NEW YORK (AP) -

Stocks ended modestly lower and bond prices rose on Wall Street Thursday as investors turned cautious, shifting money into lower-risk holdings.

The selling, which lost some of its momentum toward the end of the day, came as traders weighed the implications of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and new government data showing slower U.S. economic growth.

Communication services, health care and energy stocks accounted for a big slice of the sell-off, which erased some of the market’s gains from the day before.

Consumer product makers, real estate companies and utilities, which are viewed as more defensive sectors, notched gains. Bond prices rose, pulling down the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 1.69% from 1.73% late Wednesday.

The S&P 500 index fell 7.25 points, or 0.2%, to 2,977.62. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 79.59 points, or 0.3%, to 26,891.12. The Nasdaq dropped 46.72 points, or 0.6%, to 8,030.66.

Smaller company stocks bore the brunt of the selling, sending the Russell 2000 down 17.33 points, or 1.1%, to 1,533.33.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are each on track for their second straight weekly loss as volatile trading brought on by anxiety over trade issues takes its toll. The late September slide has been cutting into quarterly gains for the S&P 500 and all but erased the Nasdaq’s third-quarter gain.

Stocks got off to a mostly lower start Thursday ahead of a congressional hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The markets fluctuated the rest of the morning, but remained lower through much of the afternoon.

Chinese importers have set deals to buy American soybeans as the governments make conciliatory gestures ahead of trade talks next month.

Separately, Japan and the U.S. signed a deal covering agricultural, industrial and digital trade, but it kept auto tariffs unchanged.

Communication services stocks fell broadly. Facebook slid 1.5% amid concerns that the company could find itself the target of another antitrust investigation.

Health insurers were among the biggest losers. UnitedHealth Group dropped 3% and Cigna slid 3.5%.

Energy stocks also declined. Chevron lost 2.7%.

Technology stocks rebounded after an early slide. The sector has been volatile all week amid investor concerns about the U.S.-China trade war and upcoming negotiations in October. Adobe rose 2.3%.

High-dividend, lower-risk sectors fared better as investors sought safety. Procter & Gamble rose 1.1%, Kimco Realty added 2.4% and Edison International gained 1.6%.

Benchmark crude oil fell 8 cents to settle at $56.41 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 35 cents to close at $62.74 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.66 per gallon. Heating oil climbed 1 cent to $1.96 per gallon. Natural gas fell 9 cents to $2.41 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $2.90 to $1,507.50 per ounce, silver fell 16 cents to $17.80 per ounce and copper fell 4 cents to $2.56 per pound.

The dollar was unchanged at 107.81 Japanese yen from Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.0928 from $1.0942.

Major stock indexes in Europe finished broadly higher after a relatively quiet day for global economic news.