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Stocks slide again as retailers and tech companies slip

Flags fly at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Retailers took losses Thursday and pulled U.S. stocks lower in another day of light trading before the holidays.

Bed Bath & Beyond was pummeled after the home goods retailer reported weak results. Investors also dumped companies such as Target, Staples and Dollar Tree. Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba fell after it was sanctioned by the U.S. government. Meanwhile, companies linked to investor Carl Icahn climbed after the billionaire was named as a future advisor to President-elect Donald Trump.

Quincy Krosby, a markets strategist for Prudential Financial, said investors were concerned about the weak earnings for Bed Bath & Beyond and about the jump in interest rates since the November election.

“When you have interest rates rising, at least initially, it tends to take a little bit from the discretionary [companies] because credit card payments move higher,” she said.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.08 points, or 0.1%, to 19,918.88. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.22 points, or 0.2%, to 2,260.96. The Nasdaq composite slid 24.01 points, or 0.4%, to 5,447.42. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks sank 12.53 points, or 0.9%, to 1,362.66.

A second day of losses pulled the Dow further from the 20,000 mark. It first reached 19,000 a month ago.

Bed Bath & Beyond dropped 9.2% to $41.38 after it reported a far smaller profit and weaker sales than analysts expected. The shares’ drop wiped out most of the gains the company has made during the post-election rally. The SPDR S&P 500 retail ETF lost 3.5%.

Alibaba’s U.S.-listed stock fell 2.7% to $86.80 after the U.S. government put the Chinese e-commerce company back on a list of marketplaces that sell large amounts of counterfeit goods and said it is slow to respond when companies complain about knockoffs. Chinese regulators have made similar criticisms.

Icahn Enterprises rose 7.6% to $62.30 and refining company CVR Energy jumped 10.5% to $23.69. Icahn owns 82% of the voting power in CVR Energy. Icahn Enterprises has climbed 30% since the presidential election, and CVR Energy has climbed 85%.

Red Hat declined 13.9% to $68.71, its biggest one-day loss in 10 years, after the open-source software company reported disappointing third-quarter revenue and issued fourth-quarter sales projections that were also lower than expected. Other technology companies, including Facebook and Yahoo, also fell.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the world’s largest generic drug maker, rose 1.5% to $36.91 after it agreed to settle an investigation into possible bribes paid to foreign governments. The Israeli company will pay $519 million and its Russian business will plead guilty to criminal charges. The inquiry also involved Teva’s businesses in Ukraine and Mexico. Teva said it replaced the leadership of its Russian division after the investigation began.

Teva said in October that it was setting aside $520 million for a possible settlement, and investors are often pleased when companies settle investigations because the deals remove uncertainty and help the companies put their problems behind them.

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Chocolate maker Hershey rose 1.2% to $104.44 after it named Michele Buck as its next president and chief executive. She is currently Hershey’s chief operating officer.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 46 cents to $52.95 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 59 cents to $55.05 a barrel. That sent energy companies higher.

Wholesale gasoline stayed at $1.60 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.66 a gallon. Natural gas stayed at $3.54 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.55% from 2.54%.

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Gold fell $2.50 to $1,130.70 an ounce and continued to trade around its lowest price since the beginning of February. Silver fell 11 cents to $15.87 an ounce. Copper stayed at $2.50 a pound.

The dollar inched up to 117.60 yen from 117.54 yen. The euro rose to $1.0433 from $1.0427.

Stocks in Europe were quiet. The DAX in Germany lost 0.1% and Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.3%. In France, the CAC-40 was little changed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.1% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.8%. The South Korean Kospi fell 0.1%.

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UPDATES:

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2:15 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

9:50 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

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


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