Stocks Keep Falling, Rates Resume Climb

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock indexes fell in early trading Wednesday as interest rates nudged higher yet.

Treasury yields have jumped over the last week, which has weighed on stocks around the world, and the 10-year yield resumed its climb on Wednesday.

The rise in rates is weighing particularly heavily on areas of the market that had earlier been the biggest winners, and technology stocks had some of the morning's steepest losses.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was down 31 points, or 1.1 percent, at 2,849 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. It's on pace for its fifth straight decline.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 248, or 0.9 percent, to 26,183, and the Nasdaq composite dropped 145, or 1.9 percent, to 7,589.

WINNERS AREN'T WINNING: Tech stocks and companies that sell non-essentials to consumers have been some of the top performers over the last year, nearly doubling the performance of the S&P 500. They've also dropped more than the rest of the market so far this month.

Tech stocks in the S&P 500 fell 2.5 percent Wednesday for the steepest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Companies that sell non-essentials to consumers dropped 1.6 percent.

YIELDS: The biggest driver for the market over the last week has been interest rates, which began spurting higher following several encouraging reports on the economy. Higher rates can slow economic growth, erode corporate profits and make investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks.

The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 3.23 percent from 3.20 percent late Tuesday and from 3.05 percent early last week. The two-year yield rose to 2.89 percent from 2.87 percent, and the 30-year yield climbed to 3.39 percent from 3.37 percent.

INFLATION WATCH: U.S. wholesale prices rose a modest 0.2 percent in September, evidence that inflation is tame. The Labor Department said its index of producer prices has climbed 2.6 percent over the last 12 months, the smallest increase since January.

While inflation has crept higher this year, there are few signs of rapid acceleration. That's good news for markets: If inflation were to spike, it would push the Federal Reserve to get more aggressive in raising interest rates.

SEARED: Sears Holdings nosedived after the Wall Street Journal reported that the struggling retailer hired an advisory firm to prepare a bankruptcy filing that could come within days. The stock fell 34 percent to 38 cents in morning trading. It was more than $40 five years ago.

Sears has closed hundreds of stores and sold several famous brands or put them on the block as it sees more customers abandon its stores.

MARKETS ABROAD: Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent, South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.1 percent.

The CAC 40 in France dropped 1.5 percent, Germany's DAX lost 1.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.4 percent.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 60 cents to $74.36 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 65 cents to $84.35.

Gold was flat at $1,191.50 per ounce.

CURRENCIES: The dollar held steady at 113.05 Japanese yen. The euro rose to $1.511 from $1.1496 late Tuesday, and the British pound rose to $1.3175 from $1.3146.

(BE)