Stocks Slide Ahead of Iran Decision

(AP) -- U.S. stocks fell in midday trading Tuesday as losses in health care, utilities and other sectors outweighed gains in banks and industrial companies. Energy stocks also declined as crude oil prices slumped more than 2 percent ahead of an afternoon announcement by the White House on whether the U.S. will pull out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,665 as of 12:28 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 65 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,291. The Nasdaq slid 15 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,249. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,580.

IRAN DECISION: President Donald Trump was due to announce Tuesday afternoon whether he plans to carry out his threat to pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran and almost surely cause its collapse. The agreement required Iran to curb its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. On Tuesday, CNN reported the U.S. would pull out of the Iran deal and allow sanctions to go forward, but that they could take months to go into effect.

Several companies, including Airbus, Boeing and Total, have struck business deals in Iran and could be looking for exemptions if U.S. sanctions are imposed again. Boeing was down 1 percent to $337.06, while Total dipped 0.2 percent to $61.86.

ENERGY: The slide in oil prices accelerated following the midday CNN report. Uncertainty over the policy helped lift the price of crude on Monday above $70 a barrel for the first time since November 2014.

On Tuesday, benchmark U.S. crude oil dropped $1.76, or 2.5 percent, to $68.97 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost $1.51, or 2 percent, to $74.66 per barrel in London.

The slide in oil futures weighed on some energy stocks. Helmerich & Payne lost 2.2 percent to $67.16.

DOUBLE DOSE: Shire rose 4.6 percent to $40.35 after the Ireland-based pharmaceutical company agreed to be acquired by Japanese drugmaker Takeda in a deal worth $62.4 billion. Shares in Takeda slipped 0.2 percent to $20.96.

RIVALS NO MORE: Xcerra gained 1.1 percent to $12.99 after the semiconductor equipment testing company accepted a cash and stock offer valued at $764.4 million from competitor Cohu. Shares in Cohu slid 12.7 percent to $20.39.

FOX CATCHER: Comcast fell 4.4 percent to $30.98 after Reuters reported that the company wants to make a new offer for the entertainment businesses that 21st Century Fox agreed to sell to Disney. Shares in 21st Century Fox slipped 0.2 percent to $37.98. Disney slid 1.2 percent to $101.29.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.98 percent from 2.95 percent late Monday. The rise in yields pushed up interest rates, which allows banks to make more money from loans. That helped drive financial sector stocks higher. Capital One Financial rose 2.6 percent to $91.20.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.13 yen from 109.06 yen on Monday. The euro fell to $1.1881 from $1.1923.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX dropped 0.3 percent while the CAC 40 in France lost 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat. Major indexes in Asia finished mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index added 0.2 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 1.4 percent. South Korea's Kospi gave up early gains to lose 0.5 percent. Australia's S&P ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent higher. Shares rose higher in Singapore and Taiwan, but fell 1.9 percent in Indonesia after the government reported economic growth slowed in January-March.

(BE)