Stocks swing between big gains and losses after big plunge

U.S. stocks are mostly lower Thursday, making wide swings as investors react to the market’s big decline a day earlier and a report that showed relatively tame inflation, which came as a relief.

Posted: Oct 11, 2018 2:55 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are mostly lower Thursday, making wide swings as investors react to the market’s big decline a day earlier and a report that showed relatively tame inflation, which came as a relief.

Banks and health care companies are taking some of the worst losses while technology companies are slightly higher after a series of big losses. Stocks had their biggest losses in eight months Wednesday, and tech was the hardest-hit sector.

Bond yields, which have spiked over the last week, slid after the Labor Department said consumer prices grew only slightly in September. That’s a sign inflation remains under control and suggests the Federal Reserve won’t have to raise interest rates at a faster pace.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose as much as 84 points Thursday morning and then dropped 372 points, but later recovered almost all of that loss. At 12:40 p.m., the Dow was down 107 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,492 after an 831 point plunge a day earlier.

The market’s recent decline was set off by a sharp drop in bond prices and a corresponding increase in yields last week and early this week. And there are lingering concerns about the unresolved trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Strong earnings reports in the upcoming weeks could soothe investor nerves, but any negative comments from company executives about future profits could have the opposite effect.

The benchmark S&P 500 index slipped 13 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,772 after it fell 3.3 percent Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite rose 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,430 after a 4.1 percent dive that was its biggest one-day loss in two years. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was unchanged at 1,575.

Stocks in Asia and Europe suffered even steeper losses. France’s CAC 40 and the British FTSE 100 both dropped 1.9 percent and the DAX in Germany lost 1.5 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gave up 3.9 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 3.5 percent. The Kospi in South Korea fell 4.4 percent.

“People are trying to get a sense of ‘where should my money actually be right now?’” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist for TD Ameritrade. Kinahan said investors don’t know what to do because stock prices are skidding, but bond prices have also dropped sharply, which limits the appeal of bonds as an investment.

The S&P 500 is on track for its sixth loss in a row and it’s down 5.9 percent over that span. The index hasn’t had a losing streak this long since a nine-day losing streak shortly before the 2016 presidential election. The benchmark index has climbed 29 percent since Donald Trump was elected.

Bond prices rose slightly as the recent surge in yields attracted the attention of some investors. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.17 percent from 3.22 percent late Wednesday. That’s still sharply higher than it was a week ago, and earlier this week the yield on the 10-year note reached its highest level since mid-2011.

The drop in yields hurt banks, and JPMorgan Chase fell 1.3 percent to $109.98 while Bank of America sank 1 percent to $28.96. JPMorgan Chase and several other banks will report their third-quarter results Friday morning.

Kinahan said investors want to know if Corporate America is worried about the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports and if it sees signs of slower economic growth.

In health care, CVS sank 3.9 percent to $75.86 and Aetna sagged 0.6 percent to $202.23 after the New York Post said regulators in the state have concerns about CVS’ purchase of the health insurer. The Justice Department approved the $69 billion deal on Wednesday.

Among technology companies, Apple rose 0.7 percent to $217.88 and Microsoft picked up 1.8 percent to $108.09. Amazon fell another 1.5 percent to $1,728.86. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, gained 0.9 percent to $1,102.08.

Alphabet and Amazon are now in what’s known as a “correction,” a drop of more than 10 percent from a recent peak. They are the second- and fourth-most valuable U.S. companies. Facebook, which ranks sixth, has tumbled 30 percent since late July, and Netflix has fallen more than 20 percent, meeting the threshold for a “bear market.” The Nasdaq composite has fallen 8 percent since it set a record high in late August.

U.S. crude dropped 2.1 percent to $71.64 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, dropped 2.2 percent to $81.23 a barrel in London. The price of gold jumped 2.5 percent to $1,223 an ounce.

On Thursday, President Trump renewed his criticism of the Federal Reserve, blaming the recent downturn in the stock market on the Fed’s rate policy.

“We have interest rates going up at a clip that’s much faster than certainly a lot of people, including myself, would have anticipated. I think the Fed is out of control,” the president said to reporters in the Oval Office.

Trump said he had no intention of firing Jerome Powell, who he appointed as Fed chairman in February.

The dollar fell to 112.33 yen from 112.59 yen, and the euro rose to $1.1577 from $1.1525.

___

AP Business Writers Annabelle Liang in Singapore and Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.

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