Media stocks are among biggest losers in midday trading

Friday, July 31, 2015, Vol. 39, No. 31

NEW YORK (AP) — Big media companies led the stock market lower Thursday as investors fretted over fading revenue from cable television. Viacom and 21st Century Fox were among the hardest hit.

KEEPING SCORE: As of 12:03 p.m. Eastern time, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 21 points, or 1 percent, to 2,079. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 145 points, or 0.8 percent, to 17,394, and the Nasdaq composite lost 97 points, or 1.9 percent, to 5,043.

CORD-CUTTING: Walt Disney and other media giants sank following signs that more people are ditching cable TV. Viacom, the company behind Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, reported Thursday that its sales and profit fell in the most recent quarter. 21st Century Fox, which owns MTV, also reported that television revenue fell. Viacom's stock dropped 16 percent, and 21st Century Fox fell 11 percent.

CLOSER LOOK: "We're at the back end of earnings season and the broad market has been in a tight trading range," said Rob Eschweiler, a global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Houston. "But under the surface, you're seeing some volatility among single stocks. You don't usually see media names move like this."

CREAMED: Keurig Green Mountain plunged 29 percent, the biggest drop in the S&P 500, after reporting falling sales of its packaged coffee and brewing products. The company said it plans to lay off 5 percent of its workforce in a bid to cut costs. Its stock dropped $21.76 to $53.22.

CRUDE: Benchmark U.S. crude sank 81 cents to $44.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, an international benchmark, fell 35 cents to $49.24 a barrel in London.

MEH: With the bulk of big companies already handing in results, analysts project that second-quarter earnings at big U.S. companies edged up 0.2 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ. Though meager, it's much better than the 4 percent drop analysts had forecast a month ago.

EUROPE: Major markets in Europe ended with slight losses. Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent, while France's CAC 40 and Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent.

LONDON CALLING: The British pound fell sharply after the Bank of England voted to keep its key interest rate at a record low. Only one out of eight people on its policy committee voted for an increase, suggesting that the bank may take longer to start raising rates than many expect. That's likely to weigh on the currency but help the stock market. The pound was down 0.7 percent against the dollar, at $1.5486.

JOBS: Investors are looking ahead to the Labor Department's monthly jobs report on Friday. Economists forecast the government report will show employers added 225,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate held at 5.3 percent for the second straight month. That level of job creation would buttress expectations that the Federal Reserve will lift its benchmark interest rate later this year.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 inched up 0.2 percent while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.8 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.6 percent and the Shanghai Composite fell 0.9 percent. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines and New Zealand also finished lower.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.23 percent from 2.27 percent the day before. The dollar was trading at 124.77 yen, up from 124.44 yen Wednesday. The euro edged up to $1.0914 from $1.0903.