Stocks Waver as Markets Wait on Powell

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock indexes flipped from modest gains to losses in early trading on Thursday, amid a worldwide slide, as investors wait to see if Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will again move markets with his testimony before Congress.

Powell will speak in the late morning before the Senate Finance Committee. Earlier this week, Treasury yields jumped and stocks tumbled when he told a House committee that he's feeling more optimistic about the economy. Some traders took that as a signal that the Fed may get more aggressive about raising interest rates, which has been a top concern for investors.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 2 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,711 as of 10:10 a.m. Eastern time. It's coming off its worst month in two years, where fears about higher inflation and a more aggressive Fed shook markets around the world.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 43, or 0.2 percent, to 24,985, and the Nasdaq composite lost 22, or 0.3 percent, to 7,250.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.85 percent from 2.86 percent late Wednesday. The two-year yield slipped to 2.25 percent from 2.26 percent, and the 30-year yield held steady at 3.13 percent.

Interest rates have been marching higher in recent months as the economy continues to improve and the Federal Reserve pulls short-term rates off their record lows. Higher rates can divert investors away from stocks.

SHARP BITE: Patterson Companies fell to the biggest loss in the S&P 500 after it reported weaker earnings for the latest quarter than analysts expected and said that its chief financial officer was leaving. Shares of the company, which sells dental and animal health products, dropped $7.49, or 23.7 percent, to $24.09.

LOW ENERGY: Monster Beverage also fell sharply after reporting weaker sales and earnings for the latest quarter than expected. Shares dropped $7.31, or 11.5 percent, to $56.08.

COMMODITIES: Oil prices continue to drop following a report on Wednesday that showed more crude supplies in inventories last week than analysts expected. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.18 to $60.56 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost $1.04 to $63.70 per barrel.

Gold dropped $8.90 to $1,309.00 per ounce.

CURRENCIES: The dollar inched up to 106.91 from 106.66 yen late Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.2170 from $1.2203, and the British pound slipped to $1.3743 from $1.3771.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Stocks tumbled around the world following Wall Street's sharp drop on Wednesday, where the S&P 500 lost 1.1 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 1.6 percent, France's CAC 40 fell 1.2 percent and Germany's DAX was down 2.3 percent. The FTSE 100 in London dropped 1.1 percent.

(BE)