US stock indexes veer lower in afternoon trade; oil rises
U.S. stocks indexes veered lower in afternoon trading Thursday, giving up early gains. Health care companies and banks accounted for most of the losses, outweighing gains among retailers and technology companies. Retailers got a boost from a government report that shows retail sales jumped in November. Oil prices rose.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,659 as of 1:22 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,574. The Nasdaq shed 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,871. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 5 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,519.
UNDER THE WEATHER: Health care stocks declined broadly. Anthem shed $5.24, or 2.3 percent, to $226.82.
PAINFUL MEDICINE: Teva Pharmaceuticals jumped 11 percent after the Israeli drugmaker said it would lay off 14,000 workers, or more than a quarter of its staff. The move is part of a global restructuring meant to salvage its ailing business. Its shares picked up $1.73 to $17.43.
LACKLUSTER OUTLOOK: Pier 1 Imports slumped 29.1 percent after the home decor company cut its forecasts and said its business has struggled in December. The stock slid $1.70 to $4.14.
BANKING SLIDE: Shares in banks and other financial companies traded lower. Chubb Limited fell $2.24, or 1.5 percent, to $146.20.
HOLIDAY BOOST: The Commerce Department said that sales at retailers and restaurants jumped 0.8 percent last month as people ramped up spending for the holidays. Sales in a category that mostly includes online shopping leapt 2.5 percent. Sales at electronics stores rose 2.1 percent, while furniture store sales increased 1.2 percent.
The report helped send retailers higher. Tiffany & Co. gained $3.55, or 3.7 percent, to $99.65, while Mattel added 48 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $16.07.
TECH TRADE: Technology stocks accounted for some of the biggest gains. Applied Materials rose 81 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $51.57.
MICKEY'S FOX PLAY: Disney shares rose after the media giant said it is buying a large part of the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion in stock. The deal includes film and television studios and cable and international TV businesses. The transaction also includes approximately $13.7 billion in debt. Robert Iger will continue as Disney's chairman and CEO through the end of 2021. Disney was up 45 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $108.06. Fox rose 73 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $33.48.
FLYING HIGH: Delta Air Lines rose 2.9 percent after investors welcomed the company's fourth-quarter business update. The stock picked up $1.56 to $55.19.
BOND YIELDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose held at 2.35 percent.
ENERGY: Oil prices rose, reversing an early slide. Benchmark U.S. crude added 20 cents to $56.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 47 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $62.91 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 112.13 yen from 112.52 yen on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1799 from $1.1820.
THE BITCOIN TRADE: Bitcoin futures were down on their fourth day of trading, dropping $65, or 0.4 percent, to $16,990 on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The futures allow investors to make bets on the future price of bitcoin. The average price of an actual bitcoin was $16,681 in trading on private exchanges, according to Coindesk. The price of the digital currency has soared this year, having begun 2017 under $1,000.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major stock indexes in Europe were lower after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England opted to keep interest rates unchanged, as expected. Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent, while France's CAC 40 lost 0.8 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.6 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent. South Korea's Kospi gave up 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.2 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2 percent.