US Stocks Slip Thursday

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks slipped Thursday after the clamps tightened on Wall Street from rising yields in the bond market.

The S&P 500 fell 27.34, or 0.6%, to 4,349.61. It was the first drop for the index in five days, breaking its longest winning streak since August.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 173.73 points, or 0.5%, to 33,631.14, and the Nasdaq composite sank 85.46, or 0.6%, to 13,574.22.

The stock market has largely been taking its cue from the bond market recently, and weak results announced in the afternoon for an auction of 30-year Treasury bonds sent yields higher on all kinds of Treasurys. Higher yields can knock down prices for stocks, all else equal, and slow the economy by making borrowing more expensive.

Yields had already been on the rise in the morning following a report that showed inflation at the consumer level was a touch higher last month than economists expected. That raises worries about the Federal Reserve keeping its main interest rate high for a long time, as it tries to drive down inflation.

The inflation report also had some encouraging nuggets for financial markets underneath the surface. After ignoring prices for food and fuel, which Fed officials see as a better predictor of where inflation may be heading, prices that consumers had to pay last month were in line with expectations. They also continued to decelerate from earlier months.

A second economic report from the morning likewise offered both encouragement and caution for financial markets. It said slightly fewer U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected. On one hand, that indicates a job market with few layoffs, which means strength for the overall economy. But it could also be adding fuel to keep upward pressure on inflation.

Following the reports, the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 4.70% from 4.56% late Wednesday. The two-year Treasury yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, climbed to 5.07% from 4.99%.

Yields are still flat to down slightly for the week so far. After jumping last week to their highest levels in more than a decade, yields regressed following speeches that investors saw as hints that the Fed may not hike its main overnight interest rate anymore.

The big jump for the 10-year Treasury yield since the summer has pulled mortgage rates to their highest levels since the turn of the millennium, and such moves could continue to slow the economy and hopefully inflation without requiring more hikes by the Fed.

Nothing in Thursday's inflation report should sway the Fed one way or the other when it comes to what it will do on Nov. 1, when it announces its next move on interest rates, said Seema Shah, chief global strategist at Principal Asset Management. She called the data "reassuringly uneventful."

"The question around whether or not there will be one more interest rate hike is yet to be answered," she said.

Rising crude oil prices have put extra pressure on inflation recently, and they were volatile again Thursday. After jumping early in the day, a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude slipped 58 cents to settle at $82.91. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 18 cents to $86.00 per barrel.

Since their summertime leap and subsequent regression a couple weeks ago, crude oil prices have been shaky following the latest fighting in Gaza. The worry is the violence could lead to disruptions in the supply of petroleum.

Higher oil prices add costs across the economy, and airlines are particularly hurt because fuel is one of their biggest expenses.

Delta Air Lines fell 2.3% lower despite reporting stronger profit for the summer than analysts expected. It also said it's seeing encouraging trends for bookings going into the holiday season.

It's at the head of a reporting season for S&P 500 companies that could mark a return to profit growth following three straight quarters of declines.

Several financial giants will report on Friday, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, along with UnitedHealth Group.

Earnings reports from the banks could offer a window into how U.S. households are handling still-high inflation. Resilient spending by those households has been a big factor keeping the U.S. economy out of a long-predicted recession. Bank stocks were mixed ahead of Friday's reports, with JPMorgan Chase down 0.2% and Wells Fargo up 0.1%.

Ford Motor slumped 2% after the United Auto Workers union significantly escalated its walkout against Detroit automakers. In a surprise move, 8,700 workers left their jobs at a Ford truck plant in Louisville, Kentucky.

In stock markets abroad, indexes were mixed in Europe after rising sharply in much of Asia.