US stocks take small losses; Kroger, Costco sink

Friday, February 26, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 9

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks declined Thursday morning, with utility companies taking the biggest losses. Oil prices traded lower. The price of oil and the broader market both rose modestly a day earlier.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 50 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,949 as of 10:04 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped seven points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,979. The Nasdaq composite fell 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,689.

LOW POWER: Utility stocks fell the most, with NextEra Energy down 1.5 percent to $110.68 and American Electric Power down 1.5 percent to $60.98.

EARNINGS: Supermarket operator Kroger dropped $2.80, or 6.9 percent, to $37.85 after investors were disappointed with its quarterly sales and its forecasts. Costco Wholesale fell $4.73, or 3.1 percent, to $148.06 after its profit and sales came up short of Wall Street's forecasts.

OIL: The price of U.S. crude fell 19 cents to $34.47 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, lost 38 cents to $36.55 a barrel in London. Energy stocks continued to rise, however. They also made big gains a day earlier.

OVERSEAS: Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent and Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent. France's CAC 40 declined 0.4 percent. Asian markets closed mostly higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.6 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.3 percent to 19,941.76.

CHINA OUTLOOK: Chinese leaders were expected to lower their growth target during the upcoming gathering of the National People's Congress this week as China seeks more flexibility for structural reforms for the slowing, state-dominated economy. The growth target due to be announced on Saturday is expected to be a range of 6.5 to 7 percent, down from 2015's goal of about 7 percent.

CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.85 percent from 1.84 percent late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.0920 from $1.0868 and the dollar edged up to 113.58 yen from 113.45 yen.