Stocks slip; small firms take the brunt

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - As­so­ci­ated press

Losses for en­ergy and tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies left most U.S. stocks lower Thurs­day. Smaller com­pa­nies fared worse as the dol­lar re­mained at 15-month lows. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age eked out its eighth con­sec­u­tive gain.

En­ergy firms’ stocks weak­ened as the price of oil turned lower, and tech firms de­clined as Ap­ple gave up a piece of its big gain from the day be­fore. In­vestors bought gov­ern­ment bonds af­ter some shaky eco­nomic news in the U.S. and Bri­tain. That sent bond yields down, which hurt fi­nan­cial firms. In­dus­trial firms such as 3M did well, and so did large drug­mak­ers such as Pfizer.

Small com­pa­nies, which surged in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, have slumped this week. Firearms maker Sturm Ruger tum­bled Thurs­day af­ter it said quar­terly sales fell. Sport­ing goods com­pa­nies such as Big 5 and Vista Out­door also sank. Smaller banks fared worse than larger ones.

Ju­lian Emanuel, an eq­uity strate­gist for UBS, said that as the dol­lar keeps los­ing strength, in­vestors are selling smaller and more do­mes­ti­cally fo­cused firms and buy­ing more in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses, as the weaker dol­lar will help their prof­its and sales out­side the U.S.

Sy­man­tec slid 2.1%, to $30.27 af­ter the maker of se­cu­rity soft­ware announced dis­ap­point­ing quar­terly sales and is­sued fore­casts that weren’t as good as hoped. It also agreed to sell its website se­cu­rity busi­ness to DigiCert for $950 mil­lion in cash and a 30% stake in DigiCert.

3-D prin­ter maker 3D Sys­tems dived 21.3% to $13.39 af­ter its quar­terly re­sults fell short of es­ti­mates and it cut its full-year pro­jec­tions.

Fit­bit leaped 15.2% to $5.84 af­ter the maker of fit­ness track­ers posted a smaller loss than ex­pected.

The In­sti­tute for Sup­ply Man­age­ment said pro­duc­tion, or­ders and hir­ing by U.S. ser­vices com­pa­nies all de­clined in July. Its ser­vices in­dex fell to its low­est read­ing in 11 months, which sug­gests the econ­omy is grow­ing at a steady but mod­est pace. Mean­while, the Bank of Eng­land re­duced its eco­nomic growth fore­casts.

The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note fell to 2.22% from 2.27%. That sent in­ter­est rates lower.

Tesla jumped 6.5% to $347.09 af­ter the maker of elec­tric cars said it’s con­fi­dent it can meet its pro­duc­tion goals for its Model 3 sedan. It also posted a smaller loss than ex­pected.

Avon Prod­ucts lost money last quar­ter and said sales weren’t as good as ex­pected. The cos­met­ics re­tailer said Thurs­day that its CEO will leave the com­pany. The stock sank 10.7% to $3.

Bench­mark U.S. crude fell 56 cents, or 1.1%, to $49.03 a bar­rel. Brent crude fell 35 cents to $52.01 a bar­rel. Whole­sale gaso­line fell 1 cent to $1.63 a gal­lon. Heat­ing oil fell 2 cents to $1.64 a gal­lon. Nat­u­ral gas slipped 1 cent to $2.80 per 1,000 cu­bic feet.

Gold fell $4 to $1,274.40 an ounce. Sil­ver fell 10 cents to $16.63 an ounce. Cop­per fell less than 1 cent to $2.88 a pound.

The dol­lar fell to 110.06 yen from 110.61 yen. The euro rose to $1.1866 from $1.1860.

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