U.S. stocks headed lower in late-afternoon trading Tuesday, weighed down largely by a slide in phone, technology and utilities companies. Banks led the gainers. Energy stocks also rose as crude oil prices closed higher. Bond yields rose as investors speculated that the European Central Bank could be ready to let interest rates rise.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 12 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,426 as of 3:08 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,352. The Nasdaq composite lost 74 points, or 1.2 percent, to 6,172. The Russell 2000 of small-company stocks fell 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,410.
THE QUOTE: A decision by Senate Republican leaders to delay a vote on a health care overhaul bill until after the July 4 recess also weighed on the market, said Sean Lynch, co-head of global equity strategy at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
“The delay of the health care vote added to a little bit of the uneasiness going into the quarter-end here,” Lynch said.
APPETIZING RESULTS: Darden Restaurants rose 2.9 percent after the owner of Olive Garden and other chain restaurants reported earnings that were better than analysts expected. The stock added $2.58 to $92.66.
DIALING A DEAL: Sprint rose 2.7 percent following a published report suggesting the mobile phone company is in talks with Charter Communications and Comcast Corp. on a deal that could enable the cable operators to buy a stake in Sprint. Sprint gained 22 cents to $8.23. Comcast slid 43 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $39.16, while Charter lost $2.52, or 0.8 percent, to $330.13.
UPGRADED: J.C. Penney gained 3 percent after an analyst upgraded the stock to hold from sell, saying the struggling retailer should be able to meet its sales target for the year. Penney shares rose 14 cents to $4.81.
NEW MONEY MAN: Shares in Kohl’s were up 2.1 percent after the retailer announced it has appointed Bruce Besanko as chief financial officer. Besanko had held the same role at Supervalu. Kohl’s added 79 cents to $38.31.
FINED: Alphabet, Google’s parent company, slid 2.4 percent after the European Union slapped the online search giant with a $2.7 billion fine. The EU alleges that the company breached antitrust rules with its online shopping service. Alphabet said it is considering an appeal. Alphabet shares fell $23.09 to $949.
ON THE ECONOMY: Investors were weighing new data on U.S. home prices and consumer confidence. The S&P’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index shows home prices climbed 5.7 percent nationwide in April. The latest gain follows price increases of 5.9 percent in March and February. Separately, the Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index rose to 118.9 this month from 117.6 in May.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 86 cents, or 2 percent, to settle at $44.24 per barrel in New York. Brent, the international standard, gained 82 cents, or 1.8 percent, to close at $46.65 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.46 per gallon. Heating oil also added 3 cents to $1.41 per gallon. Natural gas gained a penny to $3.04 per 1,000 cubic feet.
METALS: Gold inched up 50 cents to settle at $1,246.90 ounce. Silver added 2 cents to $16.59 per ounce. Copper gained 2 cents to $2.65 per pound.
BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.20 percent from 2.13 percent late Monday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.09 yen from 111.89 yen late Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1337 from $1.1181.
MARKETS ABROAD: European stock markets headed lower as the euro surged after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s latest remarks displayed optimism over the future of the economy in the 19-country eurozone. Germany’s DAX was down 0.8 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was 0.7 percent lower. The FTSE 100 of leading British shares was down 0.2 percent. Major indexes in Asia were mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged 0.1 percent lower.
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