US Stocks Waver as Banks Slip; Household Goods Makers Rise

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes are little changed Wednesday afternoon as a recent decline in interest rates continues to put pressure on banks, and energy companies also move lower. Household products and food companies are trading higher and technology companies are eking out a small gain as video game publishers jump.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index was little changed at 2,591 as of 12:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2 points to 23,555. The Nasdaq composite rose 5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,773 as technology companies were on track for their tenth gain in a row. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,476.

The S&P 500 has jumped 21 percent since Nov. 8, 2016, the day Trump was elected. That's a better one-year result than the same period after most recent presidential elections, although it trails the gains the market made in the year after Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012. Technology companies have led the way with a 39-percent surge and banks and other financial companies are up 32 percent. Industrial and basic materials companies have also soared as investors have bet on economic growth in the U.S. and the improving global economy.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped held at 2.32 percent. Yields reached a seven-month high in late October but they have been slipping steadily since then because investors expect future interest rates to rise a bit more slowly. One reason for that is the nomination of Jay Powell as next Federal Reserve chair. Powell is expected to take a similar approach to current Fed Chair Janet Yellen and raise rates at a gradual clip. Some of the other candidates for the job were expected to take a more aggressive approach and raise rates faster.

Bank of America fell 41 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $26.77 and Comerica shed 87 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $76.29.

The S&P 500 banking index is down for the fourth day in a row since it reached its highest level in a decade, dating back to before the housing crisis and the global financial crisis.

LEADERS: Companies that make and sell household goods did better than the rest of the market. Wal-Mart added $1.22, or 1.4 percent, to $90.17 and food conglomerate Kraft Heinz rose $1.47, or 1.9 percent, to $79.65. Consumer products companies also rose. Colgate-Palmolive jumped $2.23, or 3.1 percent, to $73.13 and Arm & Hammer maker Church & Dwight picked up 88 cents, or 2 percent, $44.64.

SNAP SNAPPED: Social media site Snap tumbled after the company reported weak user growth and revenue in its latest quarter as it faces intense competition from Facebook's Instagram and WhatsApp, among others. Snap lost more than $440 million in its latest quarter. The stock dropped $2.49, or 16.5 percent, to $12.63. It was on track for even larger losses before the company disclosed an investment from Chinese internet company Tencent. The WeChat messaging app owner bought a 10 percent stake in Snap.

ON HOLD?: Time Warner Cable slumped after AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said it's "uncertain" when AT&T will be able to finish buying the company. AT&T had expected to complete the deal by the end of the year. Stephens said AT&T is still in talks with the Justice Department about getting the $85 billion purchase approved. Time Warner Cable slid $3.46, or 3.77 percent, to $91.20 and AT&T lost 5 cents to $33.02.

POWER UP: Take-Two Interactive Software, the publisher of games including "Grand Theft Auto" and "NBA2K," jumped after its second-quarter revenue blew past Wall Street's estimates. Analysts said its revenue from online games and digital spending was better than expected. The stock soared $11.45, or 10.8 percent, to $117.84 and competitor Electronic Arts added $2.72, or 2.4 percent, to $114.42.

HUMANA PLUNGES: Health insurer Humana plunged $14.32, or 5.6 percent, to $241.99. The company's third-quarter results didn't excite investors, and Humana said it will eliminate around 2,700 jobs, about half through early retirement offers and half through layoffs.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude reversed an early loss and gained 34 cents to $57.54 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, picked up 61 cents, or 1 percent, to $64.30 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.72 yen from 113.87 yen. The euro rose to $1.1591 from $1.1589.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX was little changed percent and the French CAC 40 dropped 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index in Britain rose 0.2 percent. In Japan the Nikkei 225 index shed 0.1 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng retreated 0.3 percent. The Kospi in South Korea advanced 0.3 percent.

– By Marley Jay, AP Markets Writer

Categories: Banking, Top Business News