Stocks swoon after weak earnings as tech and industrials sink

Last Updated Oct 25, 2017 4:12 PM EDT

U.S. stocks tumbled Wednesday as banks and industrial firms took sharp losses. Stocks saw their biggest losses since early September as high-dividend stocks skidded while bond yields rose. Technology companies also were lower. Weak third-quarter reports and forecasts from AT&T, Boeing, Advanced Micro Devices and others all contributed to the losses.

Keeping score

While President Trump frequently claims credit for stock market gains since his election last November, the numbers weren't in his favor Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed nearly 12 points, or almost 0.5 percent, to 2,557 as of 4:00p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 120points, or 0.5 percent, to 23,321. The Nasdaq composite sank 41 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,556. The Russell 2000 index, which is composed of smaller-company stocks, dropped 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,493.

Power down

Defense contractor General Dynamics (GD) lost about $4.70, or 2.2 percent, to $207.36. The company's technology and marine systems businesses reported lower sales compared to a year ago, and its revenue fell far short of estimates. Boeing's solid quarter and improved annual profit estimate still fell short of investors' lofty expectations. Boeing stock has almost doubled in value in the last 12 months, but Wednesday it fell $9.52, or 3.6 percent, to $256.48. General Electric declined for the third day in a row and is trading at its lowest price in more than four years as it lost 59 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $21.30.

Media and marketing information company Nielsen Holdings dropped $2.85, or 6.9 percent, to $38.28 after it reported weak results in the U.S. Alaska Air gave up $7.59, or 9.5 percent, to $71.81.

Earnings woes 

Technology companies and banks struggled as well. Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices dropped $1.74, or 12.2 percent, to $12.51 after its fourth-quarter forecasts disappointed investors. Network equipment maker Juniper Networks also issued a mediocre forecast and its stock lost $1.64, or 6.3 percent, to $24.53. Elsewhere, IBM declined $2.70, or 1.6 percent, to $153.18 and chipmaker Nvidia slid $4.93, or 2.5 percent, to $193.75.

Discover Financial Services gave up $2.62, or 3.9 percent, to $64.77 as the credit card issuer and lender set aside more money to cover potential losses on bad loans. Analysts were also unimpressed with its profit because of a tax benefit. Regional bank Huntington Bancshares fell 34 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $13.87.

Bonds

Bond prices fell again. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.44 percent from 2.42 percent. Bond yields are touching their highest levels since March, and that's putting pressure on companies that pay large dividends. Those stocks tend to do better when bond yields weaken, as the reduced yields make them more attractive to investors who are looking for income.

Busy signal 

Stocks that pay large dividends were hurt by a double-whammy of weak earnings and falling bond yields.

AT&T lost $1.41, or 4 percent, to $33.45 after it reported a smaller profit and less revenue than Wall Street expected in the third quarter, and Verizon Communications gave up 34 cents to $48.61. Among utilities, DTE Energy sank $3.17, or 2.8 percent, to $105.51 and Dominion Energy gave up $1, or 1.3 percent, to $79.35.

Thirsty

Dr Pepper Snapple tumbled $6.08, or 6.8 percent, to $83.63. The 7Up maker's profit and sales were weaker than expected. It cut its profit forecast for the year because of higher costs as well as expenses from its purchase of energy drink maker Bai Brands. Dr Pepper Snapple also said hurricanes Harvey and Irma affected its business in the third quarter. Competitor PepsiCo lost 99 cents to $109.76.

Melted queso 

Chipotle Mexican Grill disclosed disappointing third-quarter results as food safety scares continued to affect its business. The Mexican food chain introduced a new queso cheese dip in its latest effort to win back customers, but the effects of a 2015 E. coli outbreak and other problems still haven't dissipated. The stock plunged $50.11, or 15.5 percent, to $274.19.

Oil

Benchmark U.S. crude shed 47 cents to $52 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 26 cents to $58.07 per barrel in London.

Metals

Gold inched up 70 cents to $1,279 an ounce. Silver lost 4 cents to $16.93 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $3.18 a pound.

Currencies

The dollar rose to 113.62 yen from 113.58 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1814 from $1.1788. The British pound rose to $1.3259 from $1.3136.

Overseas

Britain's FTSE 100 dipped 1.1 percent as investors felt a stronger-than-expected report on economic growth makes it more likely the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month. France's CAC 40 fell 0.4 percent and the DAX in Germany lost 0.5 percent.

The Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5 percent as a 16-day winning streak for Japanese stocks came to an end. The index rose 7.2 percent over that period, its longest winning streak since World War II. The South Korean Kospi added 0.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5 percent.