. Global stocks fell Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, amid worries about the potential impact of U.S. trade policies and as investors became more cautious about the market’s recent rally. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are falling Friday morning as investors again look for safer places to put their money. Business technology company Hewlett Packard Enterprises is falling after it announced weak sales. Bond prices are dropping and yields rising. That’s sending interest rates lower, which hurts banks. Industrial companies are also down, while high-dividend stocks are rising.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,776 as of 10:03 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,358. The Nasdaq composite sank 17 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,818. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, slid 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,388.
Major indexes have been mixed this week, but the blue-chip Dow average has risen for 10 days in a row.
BONDS: Bond prices sank again. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slid to 2.34 percent from 2.39 percent. That pushes interest rates lower, which means banks make less money on mortgages and other loans. Wells Fargo slipped 67 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $57.82 and Lincoln National lost $1.05, or 1.5 percent, to $70.62. Smaller banks like Home BancShares and Signature Bank also fell.
With yields down, investors bought phone company and utility stocks, which pay large dividends similar to bonds. AT&T rose 30 cents to $42.25 and American Electric Power gained $1.02, or 1.5 percent, to $67.03.
HPE Hurting: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells data-center hardware and other commercial tech gear to big organizations, slumped after cutting its profit estimate for the year. It named several problems including the strong dollar, expenses, and other problems that it said will be “near-term.” The company’s quarterly sales dropped 10 percent and weren’t as strong as analysts hoped. Its stock skidded $2.23, or 9 percent, to $22.43.
Chipmakers and other technology companies also lost ground.
PENNY IN FOR A POUNDING: Department store operator J.C. Penney said it will close 130 to 140 stores and two distribution centers in the next few months. That’s about 14 percent of its stores. Penney also said it will offer voluntary early retirement plans to about 6,000 employees. The company is trying to cut costs as it competes with online retailers. Its stock gave up 54 cents, or 7.9 percent, to $6.32.
PRISON COMPANIES KEEP SURGING: For-profit prison operator CoreCivic rose 73 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $34.73 and Geo Group added $1.01, or 2.1 percent, to $48.38. Late Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to continue doing business with private prison operators. That reversed an Obama administration policy that sent the stocks tumbling when it was announced in August.
The companies operate detention facilities used by Immigration and Customs enforcement as well as prisons and they get about half their revenue from contracts with the federal government. Their stocks have soared since Donald Trump was elected president in November. Investors expected the Obama-era policy would be reversed and that Trump’s policies toward immigration and criminal justice would strengthen their business. CoreCivic has climbed 140 percent since the election and Geo Group has doubled in value.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 39 cents to $54.06 a barrel. Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, fell 41 cents to $56.41 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slid to 112.45 yen from 112.75 yen. The euro dipped to $1.0571 from $1.0574.
OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 slumped 1.2 percent while the DAX in Germany fell 1.4 percent. In Britain the FTSE 100 shed 0.7 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.6 percent. The Hang Seng of Hong Kong fell 0.5 percent.