Stocks rally, but end a bit lower

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - ALEX VEIGA

U.S. stocks closed slightly lower Wed­nes­day, mak­ing up much of the ground they lost ear­lier af­ter a rare batch of earn­ings dis­ap­point­ments by Walt Dis­ney and other big com­pa­nies.

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex slipped 0.90 of a point, or 0.04 per­cent, to 2,474.02. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age slid 36.64 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to 22,048.70. Ear­lier, the av­er­age had been down more than 88 points.

The Nas­daq com­pos­ite lost 18.13 points, or 0.3 per­cent, to 6,352.33. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller-com­pany stocks gave up 13.20 points, or 0.9 per­cent, to 1,396.95. That’s the in­dex’s low­est level in two months.

Con­sumer-fo­cused stocks, me­dia com­pa­nies and banks ac­counted for much of the mar­ket de­cline. They out­weighed gains in health care stocks and else­where. Small­com­pany stocks fell more than the rest of the mar­ket.

In­vestors’ un­ease over es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions be­tween the U.S. and North Korea had weighed on stocks ear­lier in the day, push­ing gold and bond prices slightly higher. But by the end of the day, traders ap­peared to take the geopo­lit­i­cal drama in stride.

“Right now the mar­ket is view­ing it as a lot of saber­rat­tling and a lot of smoke, but not much fire,” said Dar­rell Cronk, pres­i­dent of Wells Fargo In­vest­ment In­sti­tute.

The stage was set for the U.S. in­dexes to go lower early Wed­nes­day as in­vestors around the world re­acted to the ris­ing war of words be­tween the U.S. and North Korea, push­ing global mar­ket in­dexes lower.

On Tues­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump warned North Korea of “fire and fury” in re­sponse to re­cent threats from Py­ongyang, which said it was ex­am­in­ing plans for at­tack­ing Guam, a U.S. ter­ri­tory in the Pa­cific with a mil­i­tary base. Trump’s com­ments fol­lowed re­ports that the North has mas­tered a tech­nol­ogy needed to strike the United States with a nu­clear mis­sile.

In­vestors re­acted by driv­ing up the price of gold and bonds, tra­di­tional safe investments. But the moves were mod­est.

Gold rose $16.70, or 1.3 per­cent, to set­tle at $1,279.30 an ounce.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note slipped to 2.25 per­cent from 2.26 per­cent late Tues­day.

While the tough talk about the po­ten­tial for war is scary, in­vestors have heard it many times be­fore.

“North Korea was fod­der for the overnight trade, and as we headed into to­day we haven’t seen any more saber-rat­tling,” said JJ Ki­na­han, chief mar­ket strate­gist at TD Amer­i­trade. “I would ex­pect the mar­kets to re­act again pretty neg­a­tively to any more tough talk from either side, but for now, ev­ery­body seems to have set­tled down, and we’ll see what hap­pens.”

Out­side of geopo­lit­i­cal con­cerns, dis­ap­point­ing com­pany earn­ings and out­looks put traders in a sell­ing mood.

Price­line Group slid 6.9 per­cent af­ter the on­line travel book­ing ser­vice is­sued a profit fore­cast that was weaker than an­a­lysts were ex­pect­ing. The stock lost $142.20 to $1,906.80.

Dis­ney dropped 3.9 per­cent, its big­gest sin­gle-day loss in more than a year, af­ter the me­dia gi­ant re­ported a weak quar­ter and said it would pull its movies from Net­flix and start two of its own video stream­ing ser­vices. The stock fell $4.15 to $102.83. Net­flix also fell, giv­ing up $2.58, or 1.4 per­cent, to $175.78.

Bench­mark U.S. crude rose 39 cents to set­tle at $49.56 a bar­rel on the New York Mer­can­tile Ex­change. Brent crude, used to price in­ter­na­tional oils, gained 56 cents to $52.70 in Lon­don.

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