U.S. stocks headed lower in late-afternoon trading Thursday, on track for their third down day in a row. Disappointing earnings & outlooks from several huge companies, including American Express, Caterpillar & 3M weighed on the market. Utilities stocks were among the biggest decliners.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 117 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,733 as of 3:01 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,102. The Nasdaq composite lost 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,148.
SIZING UP EARNINGS: Roughly one-third of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings so far, & most have exceeded Wall Street's expectations. Many companies have moreover given cautious outlooks for the second half of the year, however, giving investors reason to pause.
p>"Between the satisfactory news of making or beating expectations yet giving some cautious guidance going forward, the market may be just sitting & waiting to see how the rest of the (earnings) announcements come in," said Tim Dreiling, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
BLUE-CHIP BAGGAGE: American Express, Caterpillar & 3M all released weaker-than-expected results, helping pull the Dow into negative territory for the year. American Express fell $2.18, or 2.8 percent, to $76.81. Caterpillar lost $3.01, or 3.8 percent, to $76.75, while 3M declined $5.87, or 3.8 percent, to $149.54.
CRUISE CONTROL: Shares in General Motors surged 4.3 percent after the automaker's second-quarter earnings handily beat financial analysts' forecasts. The stock rose $1.29 to $31.59.
RAILROADED: Union Pacific shares fell 6 percent after the railroad said its second-quarter earnings slumped 7 percent as coal volumes plummeted. The stock declined $5.85 to $91.83.
HIGH FLYER: Southwest Airlines was up 3.9 percent a day after the company reported its ninth straight quarter of record earnings. The stock gained $1.38 to $36.50.
SECTOR VIEW: The 10 sectors in the S&P 500 were down. Utilities stocks fell the most, 1.8 percent. United Rentals notched the biggest slump in the index, sliding $10.28, or 13.2 percent, to $67.34. SanDisk led the gainers, climbing $9.80, or 18.1 percent, to $63.99.
GREEK FEARS ABATE: Greece's parliament approved new creditor-demanded reforms despite a revolt among hardliners in the ruling coalition, paving the way for bailout discussions to officially begin. The reforms to the judiciary & banking systems were the final hurdle the financially-battered country was obliged to clear before beginning talks with its creditors on a third bailout worth around 85 billion euros ($93 billion). Without the money Greece would face financial ruin & forced exit from the euro currency club.
OVERSEAS MARKETS: In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent, while France's CAC 40 gained 0.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite index gained 2.4 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched down 0.4 percent. South Korea's Kospi was little changed.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 74 cents to close at $48.45 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 86 cents to close at $55.27 a barrel in London.
METALS: Precious & industrial metals futures ended mixed. Gold rose $2.60 to $1,094.10 an ounce, silver gave up three cents to end at $14.68 an ounce & copper fell five cents to $2.39 a pound.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.28 percent from 2.32 percent late Wednesday.
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Source: “Associated Press”