NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are slipping Tuesday afternoon. Energy stocks are leading the market lower as the price of oil dips, and shares of GM and Ford slumped as their December sales fell short of analysts’ estimates.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,137 as of 1:50 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added four points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,017. The Nasdaq composite rose three points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,906. Stocks have spent most of the day lower but haven’t sustained big losses.
OIL WORRIES: Energy prices continued to tumble because demand appears weak while global stockpiles are large. Those concerns outweighed reports of increased tensions in the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran in a dispute that followed the execution of a Shiite cleric by Saudi Arabia.
U.S. crude fell 76 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $36 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 80 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $36.42 a barrel in London. The price of natural gas fell 2 percent to $2.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The biggest losses belonged to drilling services companies. Transocean fell 67 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $11.89 and Baker Hughes gave up $1.46, or 3.1 percent, to $45.79.
DRIVE MY CAR: Auto makers are reporting their December and full-year sales Tuesday. Car shopping site Edmunds.com said it thinks 1.7 million cars were sold, which would make last month the biggest December in history for the auto industry. It also expects the reports will show 2015 was the biggest sales year in the industry’s history.
General Motors said its U.S. sales rose 6 percent and Ford’s sales increased 8 percent in December. However those totals fell short of analysts’ projections, and shares of GM fell 95 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $32.36 and Ford declined 39 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $13.58. Auto parts supplier Delphi Automotive gave up $1.93, or 2.3 percent, to $82.06.
GUN MAKERS CLIMB: Gun makers continued to trade higher as President Obama announced executive actions intended to reduce gun violence and unregulated sales. The prospect of additional background checks and other regulations often boosts demand for guns.
Smith & Wesson rose $3, or 12.9 percent, to $26.28 and Sturm Ruger added $4.86, or 7.9 percent, to $66.25. Late Monday, Smith & Wesson raised its profit estimates for the year, saying sales were better than it had expected. Earlier, data from the national background check program showed background checks surged in December, suggesting strong sales.
Smith & Wesson shares have more than doubled in value over the last year and Sturm Ruger is up more than 80 percent.
SPIRIT FLIES: Spirit Airlines jumped after the company replaced CEO Ben Baldanza. Baldanza helped make Spirit into an “ultra-low cost carrier” with low prices and fees for everything from snacks, seat assignments, and space in overhead bins.
The company also became known for splashy promotions and “pre-reclined” seats that couldn’t be lowered, letting the company fit more people on its planes. However shares were down by about half over the last year and in November they hit two-year lows.
Spirit rose $2.67, or 6.8 percent, to $41.85.
FITBIT FALLS: Fitbit tumbled to a new low as investors were not impressed with the Blaze, its newest fitness tracker. The $200 Blaze won’t have a GPS, but will be able to use the GPS from a companion smartphone to display pace and distance more accurately.
The stock fell $3.74, or 12.6 percent, to $26.02. Fitbit stock began trading at $20 in June and rose as high as $51.90 in August.
OVERSEAS: Asian and European stocks traded lower, but selling mostly abated as China’s stock market was more stable. On Monday, the first trading of the year, the Shanghai Composite Index slumped 7 percent on more signs of weakness in China’s manufacturing sector.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 118.98 yen from 119.30 yen late Monday. The euro fell to $1.0738 from $1.0827. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 2.24 percent from 2.25 percent.
METALS: Gold edged up $3.20 to $1,078.40 an ounce, silver rose 13 cents to $13.97 an ounce and copper climbed 2 cents to $2.10 a pound.