Stocks Dip as Tech Retreats

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are lower Tuesday as investors wait for Congress to start voting on a tax bill that would lower corporate tax rates. Losses for technology companies are pulling stock indexes away from all-time highs. Energy companies are slightly higher as oil prices rise.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,686 as of 2 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,774. The Nasdaq composite gave up 23 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,970. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,542. All four indexes jumped to record highs on Monday.

Apple fell $1.52 to $174.90 after it closed at a new high on Monday. Facebook lost $2.06, or 1.1 percent, to $178.76.

TAXES: Republicans are scheduled to start voting on their tax package later in the day. They appear to have enough support to approve the bill, which would cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, among other changes. Investors like that because it would boost corporate profits and likely raise stock prices along with it. The bill would initially cut taxes for most Americans but by 2027 would increase tax bills for most.

While stocks weren't doing much Tuesday, bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.47 percent, its highest in almost two months, from 2.39 percent late Monday.

THE QUOTE: Invesco Global Market Strategist Kristina Hooper said two factors are sending bond yields higher: investors are selling bonds to buy stocks as the tax bill appears likely to pass, and they also feel the bill may contribute to inflation.

"There's this expectation that we'll see companies save money on taxes, to put it simply, and spend more in other areas," she said. Investors think "it's going to have an impact on employment, wages, and therefore inflation," she said.

ENGINEERING A DEAL: Offshore drilling platform maker McDermott International said it will acquire engineering, procurement and construction services company Chicago Bridge & Iron. The companies valued the deal at $6 billion. McDermott fell 77 cents, or 10.1 percent, to $6.82 and CB&I lost $1.44, or 8 percent, to $16.49.

ZIMMER ZIPS HIGHER: Medical device maker Zimmer Biomet climbed after it named Bryan Hanson to be its new CEO. Hanson most recently led at Medtronic's minimally invasive therapies business. Former CEO David Dvorak left the company in July. Zimmer gained $7.32, or 6.4 percent, to $121.75.

EARNINGS: Darden Restaurants, the parent of the Olive Garden chain, climbed $5, or 5.5 percent, to $95.55. Darden raised its annual profit forecast after its second-quarter profit and sales surpassed Wall Street's expectations. Cruise line operator Carnival also got off to a good start as increased ticket prices helped its business in its latest quarter. Carnival added $1.32, or 2 percent, to $67.92.

HEALTH CARE DEALS: Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare said it will cut another $100 million in costs and will look to sell its Conifer business, which provides revenue management services. The company also said it will continue shaking up its board. Its stock gained 38 cents, or 2.6 per cent, to $15.12.

Nursing and rehabilitation center company Kindred Healthcare said it will be bought by health insurer Humana and two private equity firms for $9 a share. That values Kindred at $782 million, and the company said the deal is worth $4.1 billion including debt.

Rumors of a sale have boosted the stock 23 percent this month, including a gain of 10.5 percent Monday. On Tuesday it retreated 47 cents, or 5 percent, to $9.03.

BLOCKCHAIN BONANZA: The hype surrounding digital currencies showed no signs of slowing. Shares in the financial technology company Longfin have skyrocketed since it bought Ziddu.com, which created a virtual currency for micro-lending. Longfin just went public last Wednesday at $5 a share and announced the Ziddu deal Friday. Tuesday afternoon the shares are trading at $73.17, giving the company a value of $6.05 billion. Even the CEO attributed the sudden spike to "euphoric mania" in an interview with CNBC late Monday.

HOLD THE GUAC: Jack in the Box is selling its Qdoba Mexican restaurant chain to private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $305 million. The chain of 700 stores has been struggling and Jack in the Box has been considering selling it. Jack in the Box, which has 2,200 restaurants, rose $2.23, or 2.2 percent, to $102.57.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 30 cents to $57.46 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 30 cents to $63.71 a barrel in London.

METALS: Gold slipped $1.30 to $1,264.20 an ounce. Silver fell 5 cents to $16.15 an ounce. Copper added 1 cent to $3.15 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.96 yen from 112.56 yen. The euro rose to $1.1845 from $1.1784.

OVERSEAS: The DAX in Germany slid 0.7 percent and the French CAC 40 gave up 0.7 percent. In Britain, the FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.2 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent. The Kospi in Seoul declined 0.1 percent.

(BE)