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Saturday, January 16, 2021

U.S. stocks tumble as banks and tech stocks fall

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks were skidding Friday morning and returning more of their gains from earlier in the week. Banks fell again as bond yields continued to plunge, and energy companies were slipping with the price of oil.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average sank 144 points, or 0.8 percent, to 17,841 as of 10:12 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 19 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,096. The Nasdaq composite tumbled 58 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,900. Coming after a small decline Thursday, the losses have wiped out most of the markets gains from earlier in the week. Investors remain cautious as they look to a Federal Reserve meeting next week and Britain’s referendum on its membership in the European Union on June 23.

BANKS STUMBLE: As they did Thursday, banks fell along with bond yields. Lower bond yields drive down interest rates on mortgages and other kinds of loans, and that makes them less profitable for banks. Citigroup sank 88 cents, or 2 percent, to $44.13 and JPMorgan Chase lost 80 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $63.95. Bank of America fell 30 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $13.89.

Bond prices rose further and the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note sank to 1.63 percent from 1.69 percent.

ENERGY: U.S. crude shed 79 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $49.77 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, fell 90 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $51.05 a barrel in London.

Oilfield services company Schlumberger shed 60 cents to $79.36 and ConocoPhillips gave up 66 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $45.91.

TECH TROUBLE: Big name tech stocks traded lower. Apple lost $1.15, or 1.1 percent, to $98.50 while chipmaker Broadcom declined $3.06, or 1.9 percent, to $161.08. Hewlett Packard Enterprise fell 53 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $19.02.

OUCH-FITTERS: Retailer Urban Outfitters slumped after it said sales at established stores are continuing to fall in the second quarter so far. Those sales are considered an important measurement of retailer performance. The company’s stock slid $1.73, or 6.2 percent, to $26.21.

BLOOD TEST: Global Blood Therapeutics climbed after it reported positive results from an early clinical study of its most advanced drug, a potential treatment for sickle cell disease. The company’s stock gained $4.88, or 22 percent, to $27.03.

CHEMICAL DEAL: Ethylene producer Westlake Chemical Corp. said it will buy chemical maker Axiall for $33 per share, or $2.33 billion. That’s a 28-percent premium to the price of Axiall shares Thursday. Axiall jumped $6.66, or 25.8 percent, to $32.47 and Westlake rose $1.55, or 3.4 percent, to $46.61.

BLOCK BOUNCES: Tax preparer H&R Block posted a bigger profit and more revenue than analysts expected, sending its stock up $1.58, or 7.3 percent, to $23.12.

TOSSING AND TURNING: Mattress Firm, the bedding maker behind Serta, Sealy, and other brands, reported a bigger loss and less revenue than expected and cut its estimates for the year. Its stock dropped $5.09, or 15.2 percent, to $28.49.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX slumped 2.5 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 1.5 percent and France’s CAC 40 fell 2.2 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4 percent while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 1.2 percent.

FED IN FOCUS: Investors are keenly awaiting the outcome of a scheduled two-day Fed meeting that wraps up on Wednesday. Doubts are growing that U.S. policymakers will raise interest rates soon after Fed chief Janet Yellen said Monday that many lingering uncertainties make it unclear when the Fed should resume raising rates.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was little changed, dipping to 106.82 yen from 106.83 yen late Thursday. The euro fell to $1.1291 from $1.1331.

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