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VOL. 40 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 16, 2016

Stocks slip further as retailers lead US indexes lower

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are lower Thursday morning as retailers slide. Bed Bath & Beyond is down after posting weak sales, while e-commerce company Alibaba is down after regulators again sanctioned the company for sales of counterfeit goods. Without a lot of major news before the holidays, investors are scrutinizing a handful of company earnings. Software company Red Hat is falling after reporting weak results.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average shed 17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 19,924 as of 10:30 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,261. The Nasdaq composite dipped 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,461.

HAT IN HAND: Investors were disappointed with Red Hat after the open-source software company reported disappointing revenue in the third quarter and its fourth-quarter sales projections were also lower than analysts expected. The company also said its chief financial officer will leave in January to become CEO of another company. Red Hat sank $10.01, or 12.5 percent, to $69.78.

NAUGHTY LIST: The government put Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba back on a list of marketplaces that sell pirated goods. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Taobao sells large amounts of counterfeit goods and is slow to respond when companies complain about knockoffs. Chinese regulators have also said Alibaba doesn't do enough to prevent fake items from being sold on its sites.

Its stock lost $1.21, or 1.4 percent, to $88.04.

Investors may have also been concerned about trade between the U.S. and China. President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday he will name Peter Navarro, who has accused China of effectively waging economic war against the United States, to head a national trade council in his administration.

TAKING A BATH: Home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond slumped after it reported weaker sales than analysts expected. Its stock gave up $2.21, or 4.8 percent, to $43.36.

SWEET GIG: Chocolate maker Hershey rose after it named Michele Buck its next president and CEO. She is currently Hershey's chief operating officer and will take the new job on March 1. Current CEO John Bilbrey said in October that he planned to retire as CEO, though he will remain chairman of the board. Hershey stock added $1.74, or 1.7 percent, to $104.91.

PASS THE CHIPS: Chipmaker Micron Technology climbed after its first-quarter profit came out ahead of analyst estimates. The company's forecast for the current quarter was also far better than expected. Its stock jumped $2.87, or 14 percent, to $23.46.

MEATY PROFITS: ConAgra Brands rose after it reported a larger profit than expected, and analysts said its profit margins are getting stronger. ConAgra is selling and spinning off several businesses so it can focus on consumer brands like Healthy Choice, Banquet and Chef Boyardee. Its stock added 96 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $38.96.

THE ITALIAN JOB: Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena slid 1.8 percent as it struggled to raise new capital from private investors. That might mean the bank will need a government bailout, which would test Europe's new rules designed to keep shaky banks from costing taxpayers money.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 56 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $53.05 a barrel in New York and Brent crude, the international standard, rose 64 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $55.10 a barrel in London. Natural gas prices continued to rise after a 9-percent jump Wednesday. That helped energy companies trade higher.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.55 percent from 2.54 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 117.40 yen from 117.54 yen. The euro rose to $1.0485 from $1.0427.

OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe were also quiet. The DAX in Germany lost 0.1 percent and France's CAC-40 fell less than 0.1 percent. In Britain, the FTSE 100 was little changed. Japan's Nikkei 225 index edged 0.1 percent lower and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.8 percent. The South Korean Kospi fell 0.1 percent.

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