Belfast Telegraph

Tumbling tech and retail companies take US stocks lower

US stocks fell on Thursday as technology firms and small companies skidded.

Investors bought high-dividend stocks, which pulled the market away from steeper losses.

Stocks dropped in early trading as investors reacted to rising interest rates in the US, while the Bank of England came unexpectedly close to raising UK interest rates for the first time in 10 years.

Smaller, more domestically oriented companies fell as investors wondered if the expanding special counsel investigation in Washington will affect President Donald Trump's proposed agenda of cuts in taxes and regulations.

"Investors are getting a bit antsy waiting for these pro-growth policies," said Karyn Cavanaugh of Voya Investment Strategies.

Elsewhere, technology companies continued their recent slump, while shoe retailer Nike and toy maker Mattel both fell.

But industrial companies rose on new signs US. manufacturing has steadied, and utilities and real estate companies did well.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 5.46 points, or 0.2%, to 2,432.46. It fell as much as 19 points in the morning.

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 14.66 points, or 0.1%, to 21,359.90 after it closed at a record high on Wednesday.

The Nasdaq composite dropped 29.39 points, or 0.5%, to 6,165.50.

The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 7.49 points, or 0.5%, to 1,410.08.

Technology companies, which have done far better than the rest of the market this year, continued to slide.

Apple gave up 87 cents to 144.29 dollars and Alphabet, Google's parent company, sank 7.75 dollars to 960.18 dollars. Symantec shed 68 cents, or 2.3%, to 28.41 dollars. The stocks have been slipping since Friday and the Nasdaq is on track for its second consecutive weekly loss.

Nike declined 1.76 dollars, or 3.2%, to 52.90 dollars after the company said it will eliminate 1,400 jobs, or about 2% of its staff positions, and reduce the number of trainer styles it sells by about a quarter. Amazon dipped 12.30 dollars, or 1.3%, to 964.17 dollars.

Grocery chain Kroger took its biggest one-day loss since 1999. The company cut its annual profit outlook as it deals with growing competition from discount chains Aldi and from Lidl. Kroger's stock plunged 5.72 dollars, or 18.9%, to 24.56 dollars. Competitor Supervalu fell 30 cents, or 7.4%, to 3.76 dollars.

Mattel said it wants to restructure its business to help bring new products to market faster. It will also reduce its dividend payments, although it did not say by how much. The stock fell 1.48 dollars, or 6.7%, to 20.67 dollars.

The Washington Post reported late on Wednesday that the special counsel investigating Russian influence in the presidential campaign is now examining whether President Trump tried to obstruct justice. Allegations of obstruction arose last month when he sacked FBI director James Comey.

Mr Trump has touted an agenda aimed at getting the economy to grow faster. That could help smaller companies because they are more domestically focused and thus more dependent on economic growth. Those stocks made dramatic gains after Mr Trump was elected.

On Thursday, sub-prime consumer lender World Acceptance lost 10.30 dollars, or 12.4%, to 73 dollars. Diagnostic imaging company Lantheus Holdings fell 1.45 dollars, or 8.9%, to 14.80 dollars. Publisher Time sank 55 cents, or 3.9%, to 13.45 dollars.

As the dollar regained strength, the price of gold sank 21.30 dollars, or 1.7%, to 1,254.60 dollars an ounce and silver lost 42 cents, or 2.5%, to 16.72 dollars an ounce. Copper lost 1 cent to 2.57 dollars a pound.

The Bank of England left interest rates alone, but came closer to raising rates than many expected. Three of the eight members of its Monetary Policy Committee wanted to raise rates by a quarter-point. A growing number of its policy makers seem to be worried about a spike in inflation that is eating into the living standards of the British.

Germany's DAX fell 0.9% while the FTSE 100 in Britain dropped 0.7%. The CAC-40 in France sank 0.5%.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index fell 0.3% and South Korea's Kospi sank 0.5%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 1.2%.