Energies, Materials Pull Stocks Lower

Energies, Materials Pull Stocks Lower

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks skidded Tuesday morning as beleaguered energy and materials companies fell along with the price of oil and precious metals. The Bank of Japan cut its economic forecasts, which hurtstocks overseas, and the U.S. Commerce Department reported surprisingly weak retail sales.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average declined 80 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,149 as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,007. The Nasdaq composite index fell 28 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,722.

COMMODITIES CRUNCHED: Oil prices fell sharply for the second day in a row. Benchmark U.S. crude shed 78 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $36.40 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 66 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $38.87 per barrel in London.

The price of gold fell about 1 percent to $1,233.80 an ounce and silver sank 1.5 percent to $15.29 an ounce.

Mining and energy company Freeport-McMoRan fell 82 cents, or 8.2 percent, to $9.15. Chevron gave up $1.90, or 2 percent, to $92.36, and Murphy Oil gave up 75 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $22.99.

TIGHT-FISTED SHOPPERS: The Commerce Department said retail sales slipped in February, as consumers spent less and remain cautious about the state of the economy in spite of steady hiring. Sales fell 0.1 percent compared with a year earlier, though they improved if gas and auto sales are left out. The government also said sales fell in January, changing an earlier estimate that spending increased.

Spending by consumers makes up 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

VALEANT TUMBLES: Valeant Pharmaceuticals' preliminary fourth-quarter profit disappointed investors and the drugmaker cut its estimates for 2016. It's already under scrutiny from Congress over drug prices and being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The stock dropped $21.34, or 30.9 percent, to $47.70, its lowest price in four and a half years.

WONDERWALL: Outerwall, the company behind Coinstar coin-counting kiosks and Redbox disc-rental kiosks, indicated it may look to sell itself by saying it will seek "strategic and financial alternatives" to boost value for its shareholders. It also doubled its quarterly dividend. The stock added $1.13, or 3.3 percent, to $35.52.

LILLY LOWER: Drugmaker Eli Lilly fell on concerns surrounding the potential approval of a drug designed to treat dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease. The company said Tuesday it is changing the goal of a late-stage trial, and investors worried the change makes it less likely regulators will approve the drug. The stockshed $2.92, or 4 percent, to $70.99.

WATCHING THE FED: The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee meets Tuesday and Wednesday. Investors don't expect the Fed to raise interest rates, but they will pore over the Fed's views on the economy and look for hints about its plans. In December the Fed raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade, but it left them unchanged in January amid growing market turmoil.

OVERSEAS: The Bank of Japan left its monetary policy unchanged Tuesday but downgraded its assessment of conditions in the world's third-largest economy, citing risks from weaker growth in China and other emerging economies and volatility in financial markets, among other factors. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.7 percent Seoul's Kospi was off 0.1 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent to 2,864.37.

Britain's FTSE 100 is down 0.7 percent and France's CAC-40 has lost 0.9 percent. Germany's DAX shed 0.9 percent.

BONDS, CURRENCY: Bond prices rose and the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note dipped to 1.94 percent from 1.96 percent. The dollar slipped to 112.87 yen from 113.80 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1100 from $1.1097. The British pound fell to $1.4168 amid renewed jitters about the June popular vote on whether to remain in the 28-country European Union. The pound last month fell to a 7-year low of $1.3783.

(KA)