Travel and media companies led U.S. stocks lower in afternoon trading Wednesday as some rare earnings disappointments weighed on the market. Health care companies were among the gainers. Investors’ unease over escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea pushed gold and bond prices higher.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,466 as of 2:45 p.m. Wednesday on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 84 points, or 0.4 percent, to 22,000. The Nasdaq composite lost 39 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,331. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,396.
KOREA JITTERS: With President Donald Trump warning North Korea of “fire and fury,” investors have become concerned that the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang could escalate. Pyongyang said it was examining plans for attacking Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific with a military base. The comments follow reports that the North has mastered a technology needed to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.
THE QUOTE: While the tough talk about the potential for war is scary, investors have heard it many times before. The hope, and perhaps the expectation, is that this latest round of rhetoric will also turn out to be just talk, said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management.
“We’ve seen this play before, and it usually plays out where it just goes back to the status quo,” Jacobsen said. “I have a feeling that by the end of the week, we’ll feel this was just another blip on the radar.”
BAD TRIP: Priceline Group slid 8.1 percent after the online travel booking service issued a profit forecast that was weaker than analysts were expecting. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, losing $166.50 to $1,882.50.
MOUSE HOUSE: Disney dropped 4.9 percent a day after the media giant reported a weak quarter and said it would pull its movies from Netflix and start two of its own video streaming services. The stock lost $5.23 to $101.75. Netflix also fell, giving up $4.37, or 2.4 percent, to $174.
MEDIA MALAISE: Shares in several other big media companies were down. Discovery Communications fell 94 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $23.36. Viacom slid 93 cents, or 3 percent, to $29.84. Twenty-First Century Fox gave up 46 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $27.57.
TIME OUT: Fossil tumbled 23.7 percent after the watch maker said sales continued to weaken, falling short of analysts’ estimates. The company booked a hefty charge and said its CFO is leaving the company. The stock lost $2.81 to $9.03.
LACKLUSTER QUARTER: Office Depot sank 24.5 percent after the office supply company’s second-quarter results fell short of Wall Street’s projections. The stock shed $1.50 to $4.61.
GOT A PULSE: Health care stocks, which have been in a slump, were headed higher. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals led the pack, adding $4.47, or 1 percent, to $474.15. Humana rose $3.59, or 1.4 percent, to $253.81.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 1.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 slid 1.4 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares declined 0.6 percent. Major indexes in Asia closed lower. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent, while Seoul’s Kospi fell 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent.
BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.23 percent from 2.26 percent late Tuesday.
METALS: Gold, a traditional safe haven play, added $16.70, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $1,279.30 an ounce. Silver gained 47 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $16.86 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $2.93 a pound.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 39 cents to settle at $49.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 56 cents to $52.70 in London. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.62 a gallon, heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.65 a gallon and natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.88 per 1,000 cubic feet.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.87 yen from 110.48 yen late Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1756 from $1.1752.