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U.S. stocks move lower as investors weigh earnings
New York • U.S. stocks moved lower in afternoon trading as investors assessed the latest company earnings and the outlook for the economy. Investors are still troubled by the potential for escalating tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to its lowest level of the year.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 14 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,905 as of 3:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 105 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,338. The Nasdaq composite was fell 32 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,323.
THE NETWORK IS DOWN: Phone and internet companies were among the biggest decliners. Windstream Holdings fell 40 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $11.14 after the company reported that its earnings fell by 64 percent in the second quarter. The results missed analysts' expectations.
JOBLESS CLAIMS: Fewer people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week. Claims remain at relatively low levels consistent with stronger economic growth. Weekly applications fell 14,000 to 289,000, the Labor Department said.
TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EARNINGS: Fox rose $1.57, or 4.9 percent, to $33.91 after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings late Wednesday. The company got a boost from films including "X-Men," "Rio 2," and "The Fault in Our Stars." The company gained a day earlier after dropping its bid for Time Warner.
THE QUOTE: The S&P 500 is about 4.1 percent down from its record close of 1,987.98 on July 24, but prices may have to fall further before investors are tempted to buy again, said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential. The S&P 500 slumped 1 percent on Tuesday on reports that Russia was massing its troops near the Ukrainian border.
"In essence, the skittishness from the start of the week is continuing," said Krosby.
THE THIRD DIMENSION: Stratasys, a maker of three-dimensional printers, surged $1.37, or 17.4 percent, to $116.21 after reporting that its second-quarter revenue rose 67 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The company also raised its earnings forecast for the remainder of the year. Other three-dimensional printer companies also rose. 3D Systems gained 93 cents, or 2 percent, to $48.73.
EUROPE'S BANKS UNMOVED: Both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England kept their main interest rates on hold at record lows of 0.15 percent and 0.50 percent respectively. ECB head Mario Draghi cautioned Thursday that the crisis in Ukraine could weigh on the fragile economic recovery in the 18-country eurozone.
RUSSIA SANCTIONS: Investors are also monitoring the tit-for-tat sanctions that are taking place between Russia and the West. Earlier, Moscow banned most food imports from the West in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine, a sweeping move that will cost Western farmers, but could also lead to empty shelves in Russian cities.
EUROPEAN STOCKS: The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.6 percent. Germany's DAX dropped 1 percent and France's CAC 40 fell 1.4 percent.
COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude oil for September delivery rose 42 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $97.34 a barrel in New York. Oil had dropped seven of the last eight days. Gold rose $4.30 to $1,312.50 an ounce and silver fell three cents to $19.99 an ounce. Copper rose a penny to $3.18 a pound.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year note, which falls as prices rise, fell to 2.42 percent, its lowest of the year. The dollar fell to 102.03 yen and the euro fell to $1.3365.