Stocks slump as finance and healthcare firms fall

Stocks slump as finance and healthcare firms fall
A Wall Street sign near the New York Stock Exchange. (Jin Lee / Associated Press)

U.S. stocks slumped Friday as financial and healthcare companies moved down. Industrial companies rose as stocks continued the up-and-down pattern they've been stuck in for the last month.

Banks fell as bond yields and interest rates slid early in the day. Energy companies sank with oil prices.


Strong results from Honeywell and aviation electronics maker Rockwell Collins helped industrial firms. Toy maker Mattel plunged after it reported its second disappointing quarter in a row. Stocks climbed in the final minutes of trading, leaving the Standard & Poor's 500 index up 1% for the week.

President Trump gave the market a fleeting boost in the afternoon when he said his administration would release a tax reform proposal next week that includes a large tax cut. He didn't provide details.

“I don't think anything's actually going to happen or be implemented any time soon,” said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. He said he thinks a corporate tax cut is more likely to pass Congress and become law than a tax cut for individuals, and added that he wants the administration to focus on moves that can keep the economy growing.

The S&P 500 fell 7.15 points, or 0.3%, to 2,348.69. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 30.95 points, or 0.2%, to 20,547.76. The Nasdaq composite fell 6.26 points, or 0.1%, to 5,910.52. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 4.30 points, or 0.3%, to 1,379.85.

Financial companies fell. Professional services firm Marsh & McLennan slid 1.9% to $71.88 and wealth management company Morgan Stanley declined 1.6% to $41.80. Bank of America fell 1.6% to $22.7.

Bond prices rose early on but wound up little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.24%.

Healthcare companies moved lower. Biotech drugmaker Alexion Pharmaceuticals fell 1.6% to $116.82 and Merck declined 1.1% to $61.89. Pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts slipped 0.9% to $66.46.

Stocks did well this week, but they've wandered up and down over the last few weeks. That may persist. Next Friday the government will release its report on first-quarter gross domestic product growth, something investors pay a lot of attention to. The same day, the government is scheduled to reach its borrowing limit, which could trigger a shutdown unless Congress agrees to extend it.

"The stock market's been willing to wait to see what, if anything, comes out of Washington," said Wells Fargo's Wren. He added that stock prices aren't too high even though they've been breaking records lately.

Next week the market may also react to the first round of voting in the French presidential election. Polls show the top four candidates are fairly close, and a good showing by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen or leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, as opposed to their more centrist rivals, could unsettle investors. The top two candidates will advance to a final round of voting in early May.

El Segundo-based Mattel, the largest toy company in the U.S., slid 13.6%, to $21.79 after it said its sales dropped 15% in the fiscal first quarter as it continued to deal with effects of poor sales over the holiday season. Mattel also took a steep loss in the previous quarter. Its stock is down 21% this year.

Benchmark U.S. crude sank $1.09, or 2.1%, to $49.62 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell $1.03, or 1.9%, to $51.96 a barrel.

Schlumberger, the world's biggest oilfield services company, fell 2.2% to $74.84 after it reported lower revenue than analysts forecast. The company said revenue in China, Russia and the North Sea fell more than it expected. Shares of competitors Halliburton and Baker Hughes fell, too.

Honeywell climbed 2.7% to $127.08 after the industrial conglomerate posted profit and sales that were better than expected and raised its profit projection for the year. Aviation electronics company Rockwell Collins jumped 5.1% to $104.70 after it raised its profit and sales forecasts following its $8.6-billion purchase of former competitor B/E Aerospace.

Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $1.64 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.55 a gallon. Natural gas fell 6 cents to $3.10 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $5.30 to $1,289.10 an ounce. Silver fell 16 cents to $17.86 an ounce. Copper stayed at $2.54 a pound.

The dollar fell to 109.21 yen from 109.31 yen. The euro fell to $1.0695 from $1.0722.

France's CAC-40 retreated 0.4% after Thursday's big gain. Germany's DAX gained 0.2% and the British FTSE 100 lost 0.1%. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained just over 1% and the Kospi in South Korea climbed 0.7%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.1%.



2 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 6:50 a.m.