Belfast Telegraph

Telecom stocks take a hit in listless trading

A day of mostly listless trading on Wall Street ended Thursday with US stocks giving back modest gains from the day before.

Telecom sector stocks declined the most, weighed down by a slide in shares of AT&T, Sprint and other phone companies. Only health care stocks eked out a gain. The broad slide snapped a two-day winning streak for the market. Energy futures and precious metals also closed lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 40.27 points, or 0.2%, to 18,162.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 2.95 points, or 0.2%, to 2,141.34. The Nasdaq composite index slid 4.58 points, or 0.1%, to 5,241.83.

The major stock indexes are all up for the week.

Financial companies have been among the best performers so far.

On Thursday, investors bid up shares in American Express, which reported better-than-anticipated earnings late Wednesday and also raised its annual outlook. The stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing 5.53 dollars, or 9%, to 66.78 dollars.

Toy maker Mattel also got a boost a day after it reported strong earnings. The stock rose 1.84 dollars, or 6%, to 32.46 dollars.

Several other companies posted results that failed to impress investors.

EBay slumped 10.8% after the e-commerce giant reported disappointing fourth-quarter results. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding 3.50 dollars, or 10.8%, to 29.02 dollars.

Stock indexes in Europe closed higher. Germany's DAX gained 0.5%, while France's CAC-40 rose 0.4%. London's FTSE 100 added 0.1%. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 1.4%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.3%.

Benchmark US crude fell 1.17 dollars, or 2.3%, to close at 50.43 dollars a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 1.29 dollars, or 2.4%, to close at 51.38 dollars barrel in London.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.75%.

In currency markets, the dollar increased to 103.96 yen from 103.39 on Wednesday, while the euro weakened to 1.0928 dollars from 1.2275.