FILE - This Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, file photo shows the New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan. Another month of strong hiring in the U.S. and improved manufacturing in Europe have stocks climbing early Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, as the Dow Jones industrial average trades above 25,000 points for the first time. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Health care and bank stocks pull US indexes slightly lower

December 22, 2017 - 3:34 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slightly lower on Wall Street Friday afternoon as a subdued week of trading comes to a close. Health care companies and banks are slipping. High-dividend stocks made small gains even as bond yields remained near their recent highs. The price of bitcoin fell sharply after making gigantic gains throughout the year.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,682 as of 3:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 33 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,728. The Nasdaq composite fell 5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,960.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,544. Those companies, which stand to benefit more than others from lower tax rates, have outpaced the market this week. President Donald Trump signed the Republican tax overhaul into law on Friday.

Stocks are below the record highs they reached Monday but are still on track to finish higher for the fifth week in a row. They are also on pace to finish every month of the year with gains, when dividends are included.

Markets will be closed Monday in observance of Christmas.

THE SHOE DOESN'T FIT: Nike slumped $1.49, or 2.3 percent, to $63.28. The company had a strong quarter overall, as its profit and sales both beat Wall Street projections. But Nike's North American business continued to struggle. Competitor Under Armour also dropped 10 cents to $15.42 and Foot Locker fell 71 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $47.27. Under Armour and Foot Locker have both tumbled as investors worry about the market for sneakers in North America. Nike has done about as well as the broader S&P 500 this year.

BITCOIN: A bitcoin sell-off that began at the beginning of the week is gaining momentum. The price of the digital currency fell 12 percent to $13,629, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. It had soared close to $20,000 as of Sunday. Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which began trading on Monday, lost 12 percent to $13,460.

The losses, steep as they are, only bring the price of bitcoin back to where it was early in December and it's still made huge gains this year. Bitcoin's price has been highly volatile, and finished 2016 at just under $1,000. Many economists and market watchers say bitcoin is a speculative bubble that is ready to burst any time.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.48 percent. Banks took modest losses. They've done far better than the rest of the market as the tax bill has been at the forefront of investors' minds and interest rates have moved higher. The S&P 1500 banking index, which tracks small, medium and large-sized banks, has soared 9 percent over the last month. The S&P 1500 is up about 3 percent over that time.

PAPA DEPARTS: Papa John's founder John Schnatter will step down as the pizza chain's CEO next month, about two months after he criticized the NFL leadership over national anthem protests by players. The company did not say if the move was related to those comments, for which Schnatter later apologized. Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie will become CEO on Jan. 1 while Schnatter, who appears in the chain's commercials and on its pizza boxes, remains chairman and the company's biggest shareholder. Papa John's stock shed $2.36, or 4 percent, to $56.87.

WWE GETS PINNED: World Wrestling Entertainment dropped $2.50, or 7.8 percent, to $29.37 after the company disclosed that Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon sold 3.3 million shares to raise money for new investments in sports and entertainment, potentially including football. McMahon helped create the XFL, which lasted a single season in 2001. WWE said he plans to remain its chairman and CEO, and he remains its main shareholder.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 11 cents to $58.47 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 35 cents to $65.25 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline picked up 1 cent to $1.76 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.97 a gallon. Natural gas jumped 7 cents to $2.67 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold rose $8.20 to $1,278.80 an ounce. Silver climbed 21 cents to $16.44 an ounce. Copper gained 2 cents to $3.24 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.31 yen from 113.35 yen. The euro fell to $1.1852 from $1.1873.

OVERSEAS: The DAX in Germany fell 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 lost 0.4 percent. In Britain the FTSE 100 slid 0.1 percent. Spain's IBEX fell 1.2 percent after a group of pro-independence parties won a majority in elections to Parliament. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to speak to new Catalan leaders as long as they don't violate the Spanish Constitution. Rajoy's government called for elections after a Catalan separatist parliament unilaterally declared independence in October after a referendum that the Spanish government called illegal.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slid 0.7 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.7 percent and the Kospi in South Korea climbed 0.4 percent.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at His work can be found at

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()