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Stocks finish mixed; drugmakers rally and Under Armour plunges

New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange building
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

U.S. stocks fought their way to a mixed finish Tuesday as drugmakers rallied, which mostly canceled out losses for industrial companies. Investors shifted their money to less risky investments for the second day in a row.

For the second straight day, stocks started with substantial losses. Industrial companies, which have climbed lately, fell the most as UPS tumbled after a weak fourth-quarter report. Banks also slipped.

Investors bid up assets that are traditionally seen as less risky, including gold, government bonds and stocks that pay big dividends. Drug companies rallied after President Trump met with industry executives and discussed ideas including faster drug approvals and lower taxes.

Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist for Wells Capital Management, said investors are looking for safer investments because the change from President Obama’s administration to Trump’s has created so many changes in government.

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“More than anything right now, it’s just the pace of news,” he said. “It is so dramatic.”

The stock market made huge gains after Trump was elected in November, and Paulsen said it’s not a surprise that investors would sell some of their holdings, take some profits and move to lower-risk investments at some point.

The Dow Jones industrial average sank 107.04 points, or 0.5%, to 19,864.09 as companies such as Goldman Sachs and Boeing returned some of their recent gains.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 2.03 points, or 0.1%, to 2,278.87. It was down as much as 13 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 has fallen for four days in a row. Although that is its longest losing streak since before the presidential election, the losses have been small.

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The Nasdaq composite edged up 1.07 points to 5,614.79. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks rose 9.49 points, or 0.7%, to 1,361.82. On the New York Stock Exchange, more stocks rose than fell.

Athletic apparel maker Under Armour plunged 25.7% to $21.49 after investors were disappointed with its fourth-quarter report, which included higher expenses. Under Armour also issued a weak full-year forecast and said its chief financial officer is leaving. The stock dropped 30% last year and is now trading at its lowest price in two years.

United Parcel Service sank 6.8% to $109.13 after the package delivery company forecast a smaller annual profit than analysts expected. UPS expects to earn no more than $6.10 a share this year; according to FactSet, experts expected $6.15 a share. FedEx shares fell 2.1% to $189.11, helping pull industrial companies lower.

Drug companies jumped after Trump said he wants less regulation on prescription drugs because that could speed up drug approvals. Although Trump again said he wants to reduce drug prices, investors seemed pleased with proposals that could reduce drugmakers’ costs and boost their profits, as well as with the tone of the meeting.

Just three weeks ago, Trump said drugmakers were “getting away with murder” on prices.

The Nasdaq Biotech index climbed 2.8%. Companies that make both generic and name-brand drugs traded higher, as did distributors of prescription drugs.

After the market closed, Apple reported a bigger profit and greater sales than analysts expected as iPhone sales bounced back from a recent slump. The tech giant’s stock rose 2.6% in after-hours trading.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.46% from 2.49%. That hurt financial stocks, as lower bond yields reduce interest rates and the profits banks make from lending.

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Investors who want income also bought stocks that pay outsize dividends, including real estate investment trusts and utility companies. Shopping mall operators Simon Property Group and GGP both traded higher after their quarterly reports. Simon rose 3.4% to $183.77 and GGP rose 3.7% to $24.84.

The prices of gold and silver made their biggest jumps in two weeks. Gold rose $15.40, or 1.3%, to $1,211.40 an ounce. Silver climbed 39 cents, or 2.3%, to $17.54 an ounce. Copper rose 7 cents, or 2.7%, to $2.73 a pound. That was its largest move in three weeks.

Another day of protests against parts of Trump’s agenda and challenges for some of his Cabinet nominees who haven’t been confirmed by Congress made investors a bit more nervous early in the day. The VIX, an index known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” jumped 9% around midday, but finished up only 1%. It also climbed Monday.

U.S. crude oil rose 18 cents to $52.81 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose 47 cents to $55.70 a barrel in London. However, energy companies continued to decline. Exxon Mobil shares fell 1.1% to $83.89. After big gains over the last year, especially in November and early December, energy companies have done worse than the rest of the market.

Natural gas companies fell as the price of that fuel fell 12 cents, or 3.6%, to $3.12 per 1,000 cubic feet. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.53 a gallon and heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.61 a gallon.

The dollar fell to 112.76 yen from 113.67 yen. The euro rose to $1.0803 from $1.0695.

Germany’s DAX slid 1.3% and the CAC 40 of France fell 0.7%. The FTSE 100 index in Britain lost 0.3%. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 sank 1.7%. The South Korean Kospi fell 0.8%. Markets in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan were closed for Lunar New Year holidays. 

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UPDATES:

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

7:40 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

This article was originally published at 7 a.m.


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