A three-day winning streak for U.S. stocks ended quietly Thursday. A decline in bond yields sent bank stocks lower, while utilities and phone companies moved higher.
Stocks traded lower all day as investors took some profits. Banks took the biggest losses, followed by metals companies. With bond yields down, investors snapped up phone and utility company shares. Household goods makers turned higher late in the day, but that wasn’t enough to cancel out losses elsewhere.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 19.9 points, about 0.1 percent, at 17,995.2. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 3.6 points, about 0.2 percent, to 2,115.5. The Nasdaq composite index declined 16 points, about 0.3 percent, to 4,958.6.
OIL PRICES: As markets closed, U.S. benchmark crude shed 79 cents to $50.44 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, fell 67 cents to $51.94 a barrel.
ANALYST’S OPINION: “There’s just a little lack of confidence in the market,” said analyst Steve Quirk, executive vice president of trading for TD Ameritrade. “When you’re sitting near 11 month highs and there is uncertainty, people are going to be cautious.”
Bond prices rose, sending the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note down to 1.68 percent from 1.70 percent a day earlier. Lower bond yields drive down interest rates on mortgages and other kinds of loans, making them less profitable for banks. ”