Financial Companies Lead Stocks Lower

(AP) -- Banks and other financial companies led U.S. stocks modestly lower Thursday, wiping out much of the market's gains from a day earlier.

Phone companies, real estate, utilities and health care stocks eked out gains. Energy, technology and other stocks that posted big gains in the weeks after the November election lost ground. Hess slumped 4.8 percent and chipmaker Micron Technology fell 2.1 percent.

Banks, which moved sharply higher through much of the postelection rally in November and December, were hurt by a drop in bond yields, which can push down interest rates on loans, squeezing banks' profits.

"The market has been running pretty nicely this year, so this is just a little bit of a pullback, a little bit of a consolidation," said Troy Logan, managing director at Warren Financial Service. "Anything that has run well postelection has pulled back somewhat today."

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 63.28 points, or 0.3 percent, to 19,891. The average had briefly been down more than 183 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,270.44. The Nasdaq composite snapped a seven-day winning streak that delivered five consecutive record highs. On Thursday, the index fell 16.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,547.49.

The market's slide came as investors looked ahead to several weeks of companies reporting their latest quarterly results. That begins Friday, when several major banks are due to report earnings, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

The latest drop in bond yields weighed on bank stocks Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 2.36 percent from 2.37 percent late Wednesday.

Beyond that, some traders may have also been selling bank stocks to lock in the sector's recent gains ahead of Friday's earnings releases, Logan said.

"Tomorrow is the big day for a lot of the big banks," he said. "They've run up pretty nicely postelection and through this year."

PNC Financial Services Group lost $2.85, or 2.4 percent, to $117.93, while Zions Bancorporation fell 95 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $42.97. JPMorgan Chase shed 84 cents, or 1 percent, to $86.24.

Companies issuing earnings forecasts also grabbed investors' attention Thursday.

Hess slid 4.8 percent after the oil company said it will take a $3.8 billion charge in the fourth quarter. The stock fell $2.99 to $58.85.

Other companies making news also lost ground.

Mylan fell 1.4 percent on news that rival CVS slashed its price on a generic version of Adrenaclick, a lesser-known treatment similar to EpiPen, which can cost more than $600. The version that CVS will is selling costs about a sixth of the price of Mylan's EpiPen. The stock shed 51 cents to $36.77.

Fiat Chrysler tumbled 10.3 percent after the U.S. government accused the automaker of violating vehicle emission laws. The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that Fiat Chrysler failed to disclose software in some of its vehicles with diesel engines that allows them to emit more pollution than allowed under the Clean Air Act. Shares in Fiat slid $1.14 to $9.95.

Markets overseas were mixed.

In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 1.1 percent, while France's CAC 40 slid 0.5 percent despite new data showing eurozone industrial production jumped 1.5 percent in November. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat. In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 1.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.5 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi bucked the trend to rise 0.6 percent.

Energy futures closed higher. Benchmark crude oil rose 76 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $53.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, added 91 cents, or 1.7 percent, to close at $56.01 a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $1.61 a gallon and heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.68 a gallon. Natural gas futures gained 16 cents, or 5 percent, to $3.39 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In currency trading, the dollar fell to 114.63 yen from 115.43 on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.0626 from $1.0576. The pound, which has been weakening recently amid concern that Britain might break off completely from the European Union's single market, lost ground again to the dollar. The British currency slid to $1.2163 from $1.2208.

The price of gold rose $3.20 to $1,199.80 an ounce. Silver was little changed at $16.83 an ounce. Copper rose 6 cents to $2.67 a pound.

(KA)