Technology stocks drag the market lower in early trading

September 10, 2019 - 8:57 am

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks moved broadly lower in morning trading Tuesday as investors again back away from technology companies.

The tech sector led the losses in the S&P 500 for a second straight day. Microsoft fell 1.9% and PayPal shed 2.2%. The shift contrasts with the last few weeks, when the sector drove much of the market gains.

Health care stocks were also among the biggest losers. Merck shed 3.2% and Abbott fell 3.4%. Merck and other pharmaceutical companies have been updating investors with the latest data on developing lung cancer treatments at a medical conference in Spain over the last several days.

A mix of consumer product makers and consumer-focused stocks also fell. McDonalds shed 3.4% and Colgate-Palmolive fell 2.2%.

Rising bond yields pushed bank stocks higher in the early going, but the financial sector eventually followed the broader market lower. Bank of America held onto 1.1% gains, but it was outweighed by a 4.2% decline in CME Group and a 2.1% drop in American Express.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.67% from 1.62% late Monday.

Energy companies were among the few gainers as oil prices edged up 0.8%. Chevron rose 2.8% and Exxon rose 1.5%.

The broader market has been gaining ground for two weeks as investors remain confident in the strength of the economy, despite the lingering trade war between the U.S. and China. The feud between the world's two largest economies has been injecting doses of volatility into the market as both sides escalate and then pull back. Recent plans for trade talks to resume in October raised some hope on Wall Street for a resolution.

Meanwhile, investors continue to watch the steady flow of economic data for a clearer picture of the U.S. economy's health. Recent reports have been a mixed bag, including Tuesday's Labor Department data on a slip in job openings along with a slight rise in hiring in July.

The Labor Department will report the latest consumer price index figures on Wednesday and the Commerce Department will report August retail sales data on Friday. Economists continue to expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates at its meeting next week to help maintain U.S. economic growth.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 0.7% as of 11:25 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 86 points, or 0.3%, to 26,748. The Nasdaq fell 0.8%. Small-company stocks outpaced the market for the second in a row. The Russell 2000 index rose 0.9%.

OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe moved lower. Britain's planned Oct. 31 exit from the European Union remains a key concern for investors. Britain could face economic and trade chaos if it exits the EU without some kind of deal to regulate trade and other relations with member countries. Investors are also concerned that the departure could worsen a slowdown in growth throughout the continent and they expect the European Central Bank to unveil new monetary stimulus measures on Thursday to help shore up the region's economy.

Markets in Asia were mixed.

BREAKFAST BLUES: Wendy's slumped 12.3% after the fast-food chain cut its profit growth forecast because of plans to expand its breakfast options nationwide. It plans to invest $20 million this year in the expansion and expects up to 6.5% profit growth instead of 7% growth.

ENGINE TROUBLE: Ford fell 3.1% after Moody's cut the automaker's credit rating to "junk." Moody's is concerned that the company will be weighed down by weak earnings as it restructures. The move by Moody's makes it more costly for Ford to borrow money.