Belfast Telegraph

US stocks slip after recent record-setting run

US stocks slipped Wednesday after their recent record-setting run.

Energy companies stumbled, but basic materials makers rose as investors hoped two large deals will win approval from regulators.

While energy stocks fell with the price of oil, most other sectors did not make big moves.

Technology companies eked out a small gain. They have risen every day this month to reach their highest mark since 2000.

DuPont and Dow Chemical rose after Reuters reported that European officials could approve their merger soon.

The Dow Jones industrial average made its ninth straight gain.

After an extended streak of gains, investors did not make many big moves.

They spent most of the day waiting for the minutes from the Federal Reserve meeting three weeks ago, but those minutes contained few surprises.

Bond prices rose and yields dipped.

The Dow average rose 32.60 points, or 0.2%, to 20,775.60.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 2.56 points, or 0.1%, to 2,362.82.

The Nasdaq composite shed 5.32 points, or 0.1%, to 5,860.63.

The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks slid 6.49 points, or 0.5%, to 1,403.86.

More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

All four indexes closed at record highs Tuesday.

DuPont climbed 2.63 dollars, or 3.4%, to 79.80 dollars and Dow Chemical gained 2.45 dollars, or 4%, to 63.67 dollars.

Reuters reported that regulators in the European Union are close to approving their 62 billion dollar combination.

Antitrust officials in the US and elsewhere would still have to approve that deal.

Investors appeared to grow more optimistic about a second deal in the chemicals industry: Monsanto, which has accepted a 57 billion dollar offer from Bayer but is also waiting for regulatory approval, rose 81 cents to 111.38 dollars.

The minutes from the Federal Reserve meeting showed that officials discussed the importance of raising their primary interest rate soon, especially if the economy stays strong.

Some Fed officials were worried that if interest rates stay too low, the expanding economy could cause inflation to rise too fast.

Investors do not generally expect the Fed to raise interest rates at its next meeting in March.

But bond prices changed course and turned higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.41% from 2.43% late Tuesday.

Oil and gas company Concho Resources slid 9.65 dollars, or 6.8 % , to 131.70 dollars after a weak fourth-quarter report and Newfield Exploration declined 3.42, or 8 % , to 39.07 dollars as analysts expressed concerns about its forecasts for the current year.

Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb rose 57 cents, or 1%, to 55.35 dollars after the Wall Street Journal reported that billionaire investor Carl Icahn bought a stake in the company. Icahn has not confirmed his investment.

Food and consumer products company Unilever rose after it said it will quickly review its options to find ways to increase value for shareholders.

Kraft Heinz went public Friday with an offer to buy the company for 143 billion dollars, but it withdrew that offer over the weekend after Unilever said it was not big enough. Unilever regained 2.06 dollars, or 4.6%, to 46.93 dollars after a 7.5% skid Tuesday.

Technology companies wavered but finished with a small gain thanks to Facebook, which jumped 2.40 dollars, or 1.8%, to 136.12 dollars.

The S&P 500's technology index has gained ground every day in February and is up 10% this year. That index is at its highest level since July 2000, four months after the dot-com boom had peaked.


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