US stock indexes head lower in afternoon trading; Oil falls

Financial Markets Snap IPO
Traders follow the IPO for Snap Inc. at the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

March 2, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) Banks and other financial companies led U.S. stocks lower in late-afternoon trading Thursday as investors sized up the latest batch of company news and earnings reports. The slide came a day after indexes soared to their latest record highs. Industrials and materials stocks were among the biggest decliners. Utilities were up the most.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,051 as of 3:14 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,385. The Nasdaq composite index slid 34 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,869. Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index gave up 11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,401. The stock market was coming off its biggest single-day gain in nearly four months.

THE QUOTE: “Equities have come a long way year-to-date and have been on a pace that’s unsustainable,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “We’re due for a little bit of a pullback.”

OH, SNAP: The parent company of the messaging app Snapchat soared 47.6 percent in its stock market debut. Snap’s stock surged to $25.09, far above its initial price of $17.

BULLDOZED: Caterpillar slid 4.3 percent on news that federal law enforcement officials executed a search warrant last week at three of the farming and construction equipment manufacturer’s facilities in central Illinois. The company says it is cooperating with law enforcement, but did not elaborate. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, falling $4.28 to $94.30.

WHAT GOES UP: Banks gave up some of their gains from Wednesday’s rally, when investors’ expectations of higher interest rates pushed the sector sharply higher. Citizens Financial Group was down $1.49, or 3.8 percent, to $38.10, while Regions Financial fell 54 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $15.37.

UNAPPETIZING OUTLOOK: Kroger slid 3.6 percent after the supermarket operator said business conditions in the first half of 2017 will remain difficult due to low food prices. The stock fell $1.14 to $30.92.

SHAKEN UP: Shake Shack was down 3.2 percent after the restaurant chain’s sales at established locations and its revenue outlook fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts. Its shares lost $1.15 to $34.97.

SAD ENDING: Barnes & Noble tumbled 8.3 percent after the book seller reported weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings and sales of its Nook e-book reader. The company also said business worsened in late January and into the current quarter and forecast a bigger decline in sales at established locations. Its shares slid 83 cents to $9.07.

ENERGIZED: Monster Beverage jumped 13.3 percent after the company’s latest quarterly earnings and revenue exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. The stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing $5.58 to $47.59.

FASHIONABLE RESULTS: Abercrombie & Fitch vaulted 15 percent after the clothing company said its Hollister brand did well in its most recent quarter. The stock added $1.76 to $13.45.

LESS COMPETITION: Best Buy climbed 6.8 percent after rival hhgregg announced plans to close 88 stores and three distribution facilities. Best Buy gained $2.85 to $45.

FED IN FOCUS: Several Federal Reserve officials, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen, are scheduled to speak this week ahead of their next policy meeting later this month. Earlier this week, New York Fed President William Dudley said the case for raising interest rates had gotten stronger. That’s helped fuel speculation that the central bank will raise interest rates again this month.

“While it’s plausible the Fed lets the U.S. economy run hot before acting, the economic backdrop, in our view, warrants a Fed hike in March,” said Sandven. “In a slow-growth, improving environment we think that’s favorable for equities.”

JOBLESS CLAIMS: The Labor Department said unemployment benefit claims dropped last week to 223,000, the lowest level since March 1973. The four-week average, which is less volatile, fell to 234,250, lowest since April 1973. Overall, 2.07 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits, down more than 7 percent from a year ago.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was 0.1 percent higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.9 percent, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong added 0.5 percent. The Kospi in South Korea climbed 0.7 percent.

OIL: The price of U.S. crude fell $1.22, or 2.3 percent, to close at $52.61 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost $1.28, or 2.3 percent, to close at $55.08 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline shed 3 cents, or 2.1 percent, to close at $1.64 a gallon. Heating oil slid 5 cents, or 2.8 percent, to close at $1.58 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to close at $2.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.

TREASURY YIELDS: Bond prices fell, pushing yields higher. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.50 percent from 2.46 percent late Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 114.51 yen from 113.71 yen on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.0501 from $1.0544.

METALS: The price of gold fell $17.10, or 1.4 percent, to $1,232.90 an ounce. Silver slid 74 cents, or 4 percent, to $17.71 an ounce. Copper shed 5 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $2.68 a pound.

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ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer

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