US stock indexes mostly lower in morning trading; oil slumps

The major U.S. stock indexes were mostly lower in morning trading Thursday as an early surge faded. Utilities, technology and consumer-focused stocks were among the biggest decliners. Banks and other financial companies were up the most. The market was coming off a big rally following the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 118 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 18,708 as of 11:40 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 4 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,159. The Nasdaq composite index lost 68 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 5,183.

TRUMP BOUNCE: The upcoming Trump presidency, which will commence on Jan. 20, triggered a strong rally on Wednesday that carried into early trading on Thursday. Traders were focusing on Trump’s promises to boost U.S. economic growth through infrastructure spending and by cutting red tape, rather than uncertainties such as what he might do with trade agreements. Before the election, markets had been worried about a Trump presidency because his campaign promises carried few policy details, making him an unknown quantity compared with rival Hillary Clinton.

THE QUOTE: “We had a gangbuster day yesterday; call it a Trump rally,” said Doug Cote, chief market strategist for Voya Investment Management. “Today we’re having a little breather, a little rest, but the key thing that will also keep the market going is the S&P 500 corporate earnings for the third quarter are positive for the first time in six quarters.”

NO DIAL TONE: Phone companies were trading lower, part of a sell-off in telecom and other safe-haven stocks. AT&T lost 64 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $36.80, while Verizon slid $1.49, or 1.8 per cent, to $81.75. T-Mobile US slid $1.31, or 2.5 per cent, to $51.70.

MIXED RESULTS: Novavax slumped 20 per cent after the biopharmaceutical company reported third-quarter revenue that fell short of financial analysts’ forecasts. The stock slid 34 cents to $1.36.

BANKS SURGE: Several big banks were moving higher amid speculation that a Trump presidency could result in higher interest rates and less government regulation, which tend to benefit banks and other financial stocks. JPMorgan Chase climbed $2.16, or 2.9 per cent, to $75.40. Goldman Sachs rose $4.01, or 2.1 per cent, to $196.64.

BETTER QUARTER: Macy’s rose 8.5 per cent after the department store chain raised its sale outlook for the year, citing improved business in the third quarter. The stock gained $3.28 to $41.66.

BRIGHT OUTLOOK: Kohl’s surged 15.5 per cent after the retailer said it sees positive trends heading into the upcoming holiday shopping season. The stock added $7.08 to $52.78.

BONDS: The sell-off in bonds continued, sending bond prices lower and kicking up the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to 2.09 per cent from 2.06 per cent late Wednesday. That yield is a benchmark used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including home mortgages. Traders have been selling bonds more aggressively to hedge against the possibility that interest rates, which have been ultra-low for years, could rise steadily again under Trump’s administration.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.2 per cent, while the CAC-40 in France was 0.3 per cent higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.7 per cent. Russia was one of the biggest gainers in Europe amid optimism there that Trump’s election will improve relations. The Micex index in Moscow was up 3.4 per cent.

In Asia, shares posted hefty gains as they responded to the optimism recorded in Europe and the U.S. the day before. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index was the standout performer, rocketing 6.7 per cent after sliding more than 5 per cent the day before. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 2.3 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.9 per cent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 surged 3.3 per cent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 63 cents, or 1.4 per cent, at $44.64 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 51 cents, or 1.1 per cent, at $45.86 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar has been fairly solid since Trump’s victory. The U.S. currency rose to 106.80 yen from 105.84 on Wednesday. The euro was down to $1.0870 from $1.0930. The Mexican peso recouped some losses after plunging against the dollar Wednesday. The dollar weakened to 20.46 Mexican pesos from 19.87 pesos, which was still near its lowest level in decades. The Mexican currency has been in a slump as traders look ahead to potential problems under a Trump presidency. He has repeatedly said he wants a wall built to keep illegal Mexican immigrants out of the United States and has threatened to tear up a North American trade agreement.