Stocks Return Some Gains Early

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are giving back some of their recent gains as the market slumps Wednesday morning. Political concerns took center stage as President Donald Trump threatened military action in Syria and raged against special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Stocks had rallied a day ago on signs the trade tensions between the U.S. and China were easing.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,646 as of 9:53 a.m. Eastern time after it surged 1.7 percent Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 138 points, or 0.6 percent, to 24,269. The Nasdaq composite gave up 22 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,071. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was unchanged at 1,543.

Banks fell along with bond yields Wednesday morning while health care, technology and industrial companies declined as well.

ENERGY: Oil prices kept rising and energy companies rose. Benchmark U.S. crude shed 64 cents, or 1 percent, to $66.15 a barrel in New York. It jumped 3.3 percent Tuesday as investors got more optimistic about a possible resolution to the U.S.-China trade spat. If those talks deteriorate and the countries cut back on trade with each other, it could impede global economic growth and reduce demand for oil. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 59 cents to $71.63 per barrel in London.

DEAL DISAPPOINTMENT: Medical and security imaging equipment maker Analogic agreed to be bought by Altaris Capital Partners for $84 a share, or $1.05 billion. That was much less than investors had hoped for and the stock dropped 13.5 percent to $83.10. It spiked from about $84 in March to as much as $96 a share Tuesday on reports the company might be acquired. Analogic noted that its stock was trading at $67 a share in June, when it said it would consider a sale and other options.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.77 percent from 2.80 percent. That means interest rates moved lower, which put pressure on banks.

FACEBOOK FACES CONGRESS: Facebook dipped 0.1 percent to $164.81 as investors waited for the second day of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress. Facebook surged during the first part of his testimony Tuesday afternoon and finished the day with a gain of 4.5 percent, its best in almost two years. The stock is down about 10 percent since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal broke in mid-March.

EYE ON POLITICS: President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. will launch missiles at targets in Syria in response to the recent suspected chemical attack in a rebel-held area that killed at least 40 people. He also tweeted shots at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and complained about the Russia probe. He was reportedly so angry about the FBI raid of his personal attorney's office and hotel room that he is considering firing Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Firing either or both could set off a political firestorm with unclear effects for the Trump administration's agenda, and while the market has mostly overlooked that kind of political turmoil since Trump took office, it's showed signs of concern about the uncertainty those steps could create.

PRICES PICK UP: U.S. consumer prices rose 2.4 percent in March from a year earlier. If food and energy prices are excluded, prices have risen 2.1 percent over the last year. That could be a sign of rising inflation, a possibility that has worried investors in recent months. However the increase also reflects the fact it's been more than a year since several mobile phone companies introduced unlimited data plans. That kept consumer prices down over the past 12 months.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 106.94 yen from 107.17 yen. The euro rose to $1.2378 from $1.2361.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX lost 0.8 percent and the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.1 percent lower.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.5 percent and the Kospi in South Korea declined 0.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.6 percent.

(BE)