US Stocks Follow Europe Market Lower

US Stocks Follow Europe Market Lower

(AP) -- U.S. stock indexes fell modestly in early trading Thursday as investors weighed the implications of a decision by the European Central Bank to leave its key interest rates unchanged and hold off on extending a stimulus program. Technology companies, retailers and other consumer-focused stocks were among the biggest decliners. Energy stocks were up the most as oil prices rose.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 58 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,467 as of 10:18 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,179. The Nasdaq composite index lost 26 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,257. The tech-heavy index set all-time highs on Tuesday and Wednesday.

NO ACTION: The European Central Bank decided to leave its key interest rates unchanged. It also said it would not extend the duration of its bond-buying stimulus program. Investors were looking ahead to what ECB President Mario Draghi will say at an upcoming news conference.

BAD OUTLOOK: Tractor Supply slumped 16.3 percent after the farm equipment retailer said its business is being hurt by cuts in oil, gas and coal production, declining outlays by farmers and weak spending on wood stoves and heating fuel for this fall and winter. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500 index, shedding $13.57 to $69.69.

ROUGH REPORT: Pier 1 Imports tumbled 15.7 percent after the home decor retailer gave weak quarterly guidance and said its president and CEO will be leaving the company at the end of the year by mutual agreement with the board. The stock slid 77 cents to $4.03.

DEAL-MAKING: Investors got a dash of tech sector deal news. Hewlett Packard Enterprise agreed to spin off part of its business software unit to Micro Focus in a deal valued at $8.8 billion. The pact calls for HP Enterprise to remain majority owner of the new company. Separately, Intel said it will spin its cybersecurity business into a new company called McAfee for $3.1 billion in cash. Private equity firm TPG will invest $1.1 billion in the new company and own a majority stake. Shares in HP Enterprise slid 48 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $21.61, while Intel shed 30 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $36.15.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: News of the ECB's decisions weighed on most of major stock indexes in Europe. Germany's DAX was down 1.1 percent, while France's CAC-40 was down 0.8 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.2 percent. Earlier, a report showing that imports rose in China last month for the first time since late 2014, while a contraction in exports narrowed, helped lift some markets in Asia. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 0.8 percent. Seoul's Kospi added 0.1 percent, while India's Sensex rose 0.3 percent to 29,006.18. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent.

ENERGY: Crude oil prices were moving higher following a report indicating a big drop in fuel stockpiles. Benchmark U.S. crude was up 89 cents, or 2 percent, to $46.39 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 72 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $48.70 in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.56 percent from 1.54 percent late Wednesday. In currency markets, the dollar weakened to 101.70 yen from 101.75 on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1274 from $1.1245.

(KA)