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Thursday November 23rd, 2017 8:12AM

Technology slump leads US stock indexes sharply lower

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are on track for their biggest losses since mid-August Thursday after Republicans in Congress say they might delay their proposed corporate tax cut for one year. Technology and industrial companies and banks are down as stocks pull back from their recent record highs. Media companies are rising after Twenty-First Century Fox posted strong results in its latest quarter.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 16 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,578 as of 1:55 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 148 points, or 0.6 percent, to 23,415. The Nasdaq composite slid 65 points, or 1 percent, to 6,723. Each of those indexes closed at an all-time high on Wednesday. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 8 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,473, its lowest level since late September.

Stocks have been setting records all year and they're on an eight-week winning streak, their longest in almost four years. Investors sold some of the stocks that have done the best this year, including technology and basic materials companies, but they didn't put much money into safer investments like bonds or gold.

WAIT A MINUTE: Senate Republicans are rolling out their own tax bill, which would delay the corporate tax rate cut until 2019, instead 2018 under the House bill. Both bills would lower that rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. Postponing the tax cut would reduce the costs of the bill, which is projected to add more than $1 trillion to the U.S. debt.

THE QUOTE: "Most investors knew there was uncertainty about the specific provisions, but thought that the House and the Senate would at least agree there would be some kind of cut in corporate tax rates in 2018," said Kate Warne, investment strategist to Edward Jones.

While it's been a few months since stocks fell this much, it's not a big drop by historic standards. Warne said investors hope taxes will be cut, but they haven't invested much money in stocks on that basis.

LOOK OUT BELOW: The stocks that fell the most Thursday wouldn't benefit that much from a cut in U.S. taxes. Technology companies, which make most of their revenue overseas, fared the worst, and so did other multinational companies like industrial and basic material companies. The proposed tax cut might help smaller, more U.S.-focused companies more, but they didn't fare worse than the rest of the market. Warne said that reflects a slightly more cautious attitude from investors rather than changing expectations about tax rates.

Google's parent company Alphabet tumbled $19.31, or 1.8 percent, to $1,038.98, while payment company eBay lost $1.24, or 3.4 percent, to $35.77. Microsoft slipped $1.09, or 1.3 percent, to $83.47. In the industrial sector, medical waste management company Stericycle skidded $3.8, or 5.8 percent, to $63.21 after its third-quarter profit and sales disappointed Wall Street. Machinery maker Caterpillar gave up 99 cents to $136.30.

TUNING IN: Media companies bucked the trend. Twenty-First Century Fox jumped $1.30, or 4.6 percent, to $29.39. Fox posted a bigger profit and more revenue than investors expected. Analysts said its cable networks did well, and it didn't lose subscribers the way some of its competitors have done recently. Elsewhere cable provider Comcast gained 58 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $36.79. Walt Disney, which was reported this week to be interested in buying most of Fox's entertainment assets, added $2.21, or 2.2 percent, to $103.39.

DEPARTMENT STORES: Macy's surged $2.37, or 13.5 percent, to $19.94 after its third-quarter profit was greater than expected. Competitor Kohl's reversed an early loss and picked up 71 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $41.52. Other retailers like Dillard's rose as well. Macy's and Kohl's have both fallen sharply and often disappointed Wall Street as they deal with falling sales and growing competition from online retailers. Macy's has lost almost half its value this year and Kohl's is down 16 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 40 cents to $57.21 a barrel in the New York. This week oil has been trading at its highest prices since the middle of 2015. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 44 cents to $63.93 a barrel in London.

METALS: Gold rose $3.80 to $1,287.50 an ounce. Silver lost 16 cents to $16.98 an ounce. Copper dipped 1 cent to $3.09 a pound.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 2-year Treasury note fell to 1.64 percent from 1.65 percent. The yield on the 10-year note remained at 2.33 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.21 yen from 113.78 yen. The euro rose to $1.1646 from $1.1596.

OVERSEAS: European stocks also sank. The CAC 40 in France dropped 1.1 percent and Germany's DAX gave up 1.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.5 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged as much as 2 percent early on but finished with a loss of 0.2 percent. The Kospi in South Korea lost 0.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.8 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 Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
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