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US stocks waver as banks slip; household goods makers rise

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes are little changed Wednesday afternoon as a recent decline in interest rates continues to put pressure on banks, and energy companies also move lower. Household products and food companies are trading higher and technology companies are on track to extend their winning streak as video game publishers jump.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,593 as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 3 points to 23,561. The Nasdaq composite rose 19 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,786 as technology companies headed for their tenth gain in a row. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,480.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held at 2.32 percent. Yields reached a seven-month high in late October but they have slipped since then. Investors expect rates to rise a bit more slowly, partly because President Donald Trump named Jay Powell as his choice for Federal Reserve chair. Powell is expected to take a similar approach to current Fed Chair Janet Yellen and raise rates at a gradual clip. Some of the other candidates for the job were expected to move faster.

Bank of America fell 50 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $26.69 and Comerica shed $1.11, or 1.4 percent, to $76.05. Still, banks are trading around their highest levels in a decade.

LEADERS: Companies that make and sell household goods did better than the rest of the market. Wal-Mart added $1.36, or 1.5 percent, to $90.31 and food conglomerate Kraft Heinz rose $1.16, or 1.5 percent, to $79.34. Consumer products companies also rose. Colgate-Palmolive jumped $2.34, or 3.3 percent, to $73.24 and Arm & Hammer maker Church & Dwight picked up 65 cents, or 1.5 percent, $44.41.

ELECTION ANNIVERSARY: The S&P 500 has jumped 21 percent since Trump was elected a year ago. That's better than the same period after most recent presidential elections, although it trails the gains after Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012. Investors have bet big on economic growth in the U.S. and worldwide, as technology companies have led the way with a 39-percent surge, and banks and industrial and basic materials companies have also soared.

"Investors were right to be optimistic post-election, but not because of politics," said Jason Draho, the head of American tactical asset allocation for UBS Wealth Management.

Draho said Trump and Congressional Republicans haven't delivered on the big infrastructure spending bill Trump proposed while campaigning, and it's not clear if they will be able to cut taxes. But stocks have built on their post-election gains anyway because the global economy is doing so well. The economies of the 35 advanced nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are all expected to grow this year, and most are doing better in 2017 than they did the year before. Meanwhile, Trump hasn't had a major effect on international trade agreements, as some investors feared.

"In some ways it's worked out better than investors have hoped," Draho said.

SNAP SNAPPED: Social media site Snap tumbled after the company reported weak user growth and revenue in its latest quarter as it faces intense competition from Facebook's Instagram and WhatsApp, among others. Snap lost more than $440 million in its latest quarter. The stock dropped $2.54, or 16.8 percent, to $12.58.

ON HOLD?: Time Warner Cable slumped after AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said it's "uncertain" when AT&T will be able to complete its takeover of TWC. Investors worried that regulators may block the deal or ask for big changes before they approve it. AT&T had expected to complete the deal by the end of the year. Stephens said AT&T is still in talks with the Justice Department about getting the $85 billion purchase approved. Time Warner Cable slid $5.66, or 6 percent, to $89 and AT&T rose 13 cents to $33.21.

POWER UP: Take-Two Interactive Software, the publisher of games including "Grand Theft Auto" and "NBA2K," jumped after its second-quarter revenue blew past Wall Street's estimates. Analysts said its revenue from online games and digital spending was better than expected. The stock soared $10.91, or 10.3 percent, to $117.30 and competitor Electronic Arts added $2.22, or 2 percent, to $113.92.

HUMANA PLUNGES: Health insurer Humana plunged $14.51, or 5.7 percent, to $241.80. The company's third-quarter results didn't excite investors, and Humana said it will eliminate around 2,700 jobs, about half through early retirement offers and half through layoffs.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 35 cents to $56.85 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 19 cents to $63.50 a barrel in London.

METALS: Gold rose $7.90 to $1,283.70 an ounce. Silver jumped 20 cents to $17.14 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $3.10 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.79 yen from 113.87 yen. The euro rose to $1.1591 from $1.1589.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX gained a sliver of a point and the French CAC 40 dropped 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index in Britain rose 0.2 percent. In Japan the Nikkei 225 index shed 0.1 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng retreated 0.3 percent. The Kospi in South Korea advanced 0.3 percent.

___

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jayt

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
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