U.S. stocks head lower as health care companies plunge
New York — U.S. stocks are falling Friday as investors worry that health care product companies will see their industry shaken up by Amazon. That’s hurting health care companies, and energy companies are also lower. Media companies and retailers are rising. Stocks have risen for eight weeks in a row, their longest run in almost four years, but that streak is on track to end.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,580 as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 46 points, or 0.2 percent, to 23,415. The Nasdaq composite gave up 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,746. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks stayed at 1,474.
The S&P 500 set an all-time high as recently as Wednesday, but it’s down 0.3 percent this week. The index climbed 5 percent over a winning streak that covered the previous eight weeks.
TAKEN ILL: Health care companies, especially drug and medical product makers, slumped. Citi Investment Research analyst Amit Hazan wrote that some of those companies may face a stiff challenge from Amazon in the next few years, which could affect their sales and force them to cut prices. Hazan wrote that Amazon is making progress in the medical supply field and could start supplying goods to hospitals fairly soon, as some organizations appear interested in working with the online retail giant.
“New online distribution/wholesaling models like Amazon’s will come to dominate the supply chain” in the years to come, he said. At different times in recent weeks, health care product companies, medication distributors and drug stores have all fallen as Wall Street wondered what Amazon’s logistics expertise and its willingness to slash prices will do to their businesses.
Medtronic slid $2.28, or 2.8 percent, to $78.53 and Baxter International fell $1.77, or 2.7 percent, to $63.62. Johnson & Johnson lost $1.37, or 1 percent, to $138.98 and Becton, Dickinson dipped $6.26, or 2.8 percent, to $218.22.
RETAIL ROCKETING: J.C. Penney leaped 38 cents, or 13.6 percent, to $3.13 after it said a closely-watched sales measurement grew for the first time in more than a year. The company also took a smaller quarterly loss than analysts had expected. The stock is still down 60 percent this year. Elsewhere Macy’s built on its 11 percent jump a day ago and added another 35 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $19.85. Competitor Kohl’s rose $1.50, or 3.6 percent, to $42.67.
ENERGY: Energy companies traded sharply lower. Schlumberger declined $1.55, or 2.3 percent, to $65.34 and Apache skidded $1.02, or 2.3 percent, to $44.22. The stocks have done well in recent months as oil prices have moved higher. U.S. crude is trading at its highest price since the middle of 2015.
U.S. crude oil lost 36 cents to $56.81 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up 32 cents to $63.61 a barrel in London.
THE FORCE, AND SPORTS: Walt Disney rose $2.72, or 2.6 percent, to $105.40. The entertainment giant said it received bigger payments from cable companies for ESPN and offered more details about its planned sports streaming services. The company also announced plans for a new “Star Wars” film trilogy. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” released in late 2015, grossed about $2 billion and investors have high hopes for next month’s “The Last Jedi.”
News Corp jumped $1.03, or 7.2 percent, to $15.39 after the publisher of The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post reported a bigger profit and more revenue than analysts expected.
TECH TOPPLED: Among technology companies, which have soared this year, chipmaker Intel sank 86 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $45.44 and network equipment maker Juniper Networks fell 44 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $24.92. Video gamer maker Activision Blizzard dipped 60 cents to $62.71. Technology stocks sold off Thursday after Senate Republicans proposed delaying a cut in corporate tax rates until 2019. That pushed investors to take a slightly more cautious attitude toward high-flying parts of the market.
Graphics chip maker Nvidia had another strong quarter and Wall Street was pleased with results from the company’s data center business. The stock jumped $11.83, or 5.8 percent, to $217.15. It’s doubled in value this year after its stock price tripled in 2016.
BONDS: Bond prices slumped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.38 percent from 2.34 percent.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 113.21 yen from 113.32 yen. The euro rose to $1.1663 from $1.1643.
OVERSEAS: The FTSE 100 index in Britain fell 0.7 percent. The French CAC 40 lost 0.5 percent and the German DAX dipped 0.4 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.8 percent and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.3 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng dipped less than 0.1 percent.
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