Finance, health care stocks go lower as industrials rise
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks slumped Friday as financial and health care companies moved lower. Industrial companies rose as stocks continued the up-anddown pattern they’ve been stuck in for the last month.
Stocks slumped in morning trading as banks fell in tandem with bond yields and interest rates and energy companies sank with oil prices.
Strong results from Honeywell and aviation electronics maker Rockwell Collins helped industrial firms. Toy maker Mattel plunged after it reported its second disappointing quarter in a row. Stocks climbed in the final minutes of trading and left the Standard & Poor’s 500 index 1 percent higher for the week.
President Donald Trump gave the market a fleeting boost in the afternoon when he said his administration will release a tax reform proposal next week that includes a large tax cut. He didn’t provide details.
“I don’t think anything’s actually going to happen or be implemented any time soon,” said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. He said he thinks a corporate tax cut is more likely to pass Congress and become law than a tax cut for individuals, and added that he wants the administration to focus on moves that can keep the economy growing.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 7.15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,348.69. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 30.95 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,547.76. The Nasdaq composite fell 6.26 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,910.52. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 4.30 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,379.85.
Financial companies fell. Professional services firm Marsh & McLennan skidded $1.41, or 1.9 percent, to $71.88 and wealth management company Morgan Stanley dipped 70 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $41.80. Bank of America fell 36 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $22.7.
Bond prices rose early on but wound up little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.24 percent.
Health care companies moved lower. Biotech drugmaker Alexion Pharmaceuticals lost $1.90, or 1.6 percent, to $116.82 and Merck declined 66 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $61.89. Pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts dipped 59 cents to $66.46.
Stocks did well this week, but they’ve wandered up and down over the last few weeks. That may persist. Next Friday the government will release its report on first-quarter GDP growth, something investors focus on. On the same day, the federal government is scheduled to reach its borrowing limit, which could trigger a government shutdown unless Congress agrees to extend it.
“The stock market’s been willing to wait to see what, if anything, comes out of Washington,” said Wells Fargo’s Mr. Wren. He adds that stock prices aren’t too high even though they’ve been breaking records lately.
Next week the market may also react to the first round of voting in the French presidential election. Polls between the top four candidates are fairly close, and a good showing by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen or leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, as opposed to their more centrist rivals, could unsettle investors. The top two candidates will advance to a final round of voting in early May.