U.S. stocks are slipping Monday afternoon as the price of oil continues to nosedive and energy companies take large losses. The price of U.S. crude fell to less than $40 a barrel for the first time in almost four months.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 60 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,371 as of 1:55 p.m. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,167. The Nasdaq composite gained 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,175. The Nasdaq rose last week while the other major indexes fell. The Dow and S&P 500 set all-time records recently and the Nasdaq is within 1 percent of the all-time high it set in July 2015.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.63, or 3.9 percent, to $39.97 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gave up $1.53, or 3.5 percent, to $42 a barrel in London. The price of oil dropped 14 percent in July and has fallen nine out of the last 11 days. Exxon Mobil fell $2.93, or 3.3 percent, to $86.02 and Chevron shed $3.06, or 3 percent, to $99.42. Devon Energy sank $2.25, or 5.9 percent, to $36.03. Mining and chemicals companies also slumped.
MANUFACTURING: A survey by the Institute for Supply Management said U.S. factories expanded for the fifth month in a row, although its survey reading was lower in July than it was in June and factory employment decreased.
Two surveys show manufacturing activity in China was relatively weak in July, while manufacturing in the European Union grew at a slower pace than it did in June. Britain’s manufacturing sector shrank.
THE QUOTE: Steve Chiavarone, associated portfolio manager for Federated Investors, said the dollar is getting stronger, and that’s starting to hurt oil prices and slow down U.S. manufacturing.
The dollar is picking up strength because investors are realizing the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates later this year. When the dollar gets stronger, oil falls because it’s priced in dollars. That hurts energy companies and other manufacturers.
“Manufacturing and oil have moved in lockstep for the better part of five years,” Chiavarone said.
IONIS CLIMBS: Ionis Pharmaceuticals rose after it said a drug designed to treat spinal muscular atrophy in infants worked in a late-stage clinical study. It also said drugmaker Biogen exercised an option to develop the drug globally and will pay Ionis $75 million. Biogen plans to start seeking marketing approval for the drug, nusinersen, in the next few months. Ionis surged $9.12, or 31.2 percent, to $38.31 and Biogen gained $13.12, or 4.5 percent, to $303.05. Those moves helped pull health care stocks higher.
TESLA PLUGS IN: Tesla agreed to buy SolarCity for $2.6 billion in stock. More than a month ago it offered to buy the company for about $2.5 billion, and investors had hoped for a bigger offer. SolarCity has 45 days to seek better offers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk owns more than 20 percent of both companies, and SolarCity is run by his cousin Lyndon Rive. The deal won’t go through unless it’s approved by a majority of shareholders other than Musk.
SolarCity also cut its guidance Monday. Its stock fell $2.11, or 7.9 percent, to $24.59 and Tesla Motors lost $3.06, or 1.3 percent, to $231.73.
SALE, CAESAR: Caesars Entertainment said it agreed to sell its social and mobile games business to a Chinese consortium for $4.4 billion. Its stock advanced 53 cents, or 7.7 percent, to $7.43.
VERIZON’S DEAL: Verizon Communications agreed to buy Fleetmatics Group for $2.4 billion, or $60 per share. Fleetmatics makes software that cable companies, energy companies and others use to manage vehicle fleets. Its stock jumped $16.64, or 38.7 percent, to $59.60 and Verizon fell 56 cents, or 1 percent, to $54.85.
OVERSEAS: Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent while the CAC-40 in France gave up 0.7 percent. Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.4 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 1.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.7 percent.
CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell and the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.50 percent from 1.45 percent, reversing most of a drop in bond yields on Friday. The dollar edged up to 102.29 yen from 102.03 yen. The euro fell to $1.1170 from $1.1179.