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Thursday November 23rd, 2017 5:03PM

US stocks slip as health care device companies stumble

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are slightly lower Friday as investors worry that Amazon might shake up the health care industry and hurt companies that sell medical devices and equipment. Energy companies are also falling while media companies, retailers and household goods companies 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 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,583 as of 2:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 27 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,434. The Nasdaq composite turned higher and rose 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,753. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,477.

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 device 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 hurt their sales and force them to cut prices. Hazan wrote that Amazon is making progress in the medical supply field and could start distributing 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, Hazan 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. That's been affecting retailers for years and has also pressured supermarkets and grocery stores since Amazon bought Whole Foods.

Medtronic slid $1.81, or 2.2 percent, to $79 and Baxter International fell $1.5, or 2.4 percent, to $63.83. Becton, Dickinson dipped $6.23, or 2.8 percent, to $218.25. Drugstores CVS and Walgreens jumped; investors may be relieved that those companies are not directly in Amazon's sights.

RETAIL ROCKETING: J.C. Penney leaped 41 cents, or 14.9 percent, to $3.16 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 54 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $20.04. Competitor Kohl's rose $1.67, or 4.1 percent, to $42.85.

Companies that make and sell household goods also advanced. Monster Beverage jumped $2.50, or 4.3 percent, to $61.18 and PepsiCo added $1.22, or 1.1 percent, to $112.70.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil lost 43 cents to $56.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up 41 cents to $63.52 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline gave up 1 cent to $1.81 a gallon. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $1.93 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.21 per 1,000 cubic feet.

THE FORCE, AND SPORTS: Walt Disney rose $2.84, or 2.8 percent, to $105.52. 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 94 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $15.30 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 81 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $45.49 and network equipment maker Juniper Networks fell 34 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $25.01. Video gamer maker Activision Blizzard dipped 48 cents to $62.84. 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 $11.63, or 5.7 percent, to $216.95. 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.

METALS: Gold dropped $13.30, or 1 percent, to $1,274.20 an ounce. Silver fell 10 cents to $16.87 an ounce. Copper lost 1 cent to $3.08 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 113.21 yen from 113.32 yen. The euro rose to $1.1665 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.

___

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 - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Health Care
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