Tech companies help pull US stocks lower in morning trade

Friday, April 13, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 15
The Associated Press

U.S. stocks moved lower in morning trading Thursday, weighed down by losses in technology companies and makers of consumer products. Banks bucked the trend, rising along with bond yields. Energy stocks also rose as a rally in oil prices continued, bringing crude to the highest level in more than three years.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 14 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,693 as of 11:26 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 55 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,692. The Nasdaq composite lost 49 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,245. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,576.

WHAT A DRAG: Philip Morris International slumped 17 percent to $84.23 after the tobacco company's disclosed weak quarterly sales, noting that sales of its iQos device in Japan were slower than expected.

GOING SHOPPING: Procter & Gamble agreed to buy Merck KGaA's consumer health business for about $4.2 billion. That weighed on Procter & Gamble's shares, which declined 2.3 percent to $75.71.

DEAL HURDLE: Qualcomm slid 4.1 percent to $52.97 after the Chinese government said it still has concerns about the company's deal to buy NXP Semiconductors. Qualcomm withdrew one proposal for the deal Monday and submitted another.

CHARGED UP: American Express jumped 7.1 percent to $101.87 after the credit card issuer reported a big quarterly profit thanks to strong customer spending and a lower tax rate.

HARD TO GET: Shire PLC rose 4.6 percent to $169.94 after the drugmaker said it rejected three buyout offers from Takeda, while Reuters reported that it is in talks with Allergan.

ENERGY: Oil futures extended their rally. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 55 cents to $69.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the highest level in more than three years. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 90 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $74.38 per barrel in London.

The pickup in oil prices helped push energy stocks higher. Kinder Morgan added 3.3 percent to $16.70.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.92 percent from 2.88 percent late Wednesday. When bond yields rise, they can push up interest rates on mortgages and other loans, which can translate into bigger profits for banks. That helped drive bank shares higher. Bank of New York Mellon gained 4.4 percent to $54.56.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.37 yen from 107.26 yen on Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.2363 from $1.2377.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX slipped 0.4 percent, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat. Major indexes in Asia finished higher. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.6 percent and South Korea's Kospi added 0.4 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.3 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6 percent. Shares also rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.