Stocks fall as Wall Street heads for a weekly decline

Posted at 2:01 PM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 14:01:26-04

 NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are edging lower in afternoon trading Friday as the market heads for its first weekly decline in four weeks. Nine of the 11 sectors of the Standard & Poor's 500 were lower, led by basic materials companies. Oil reversed a recent upward trend and fell below $50 a barrel. A government report showing steady hiring last month fell below forecasts, but not enough to take an interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve later this year off the table.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,213 as of 1:27 p.m. Eastern time. The S&P 500 fell 9 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,151. The Nasdaq composite fell 27 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,278.

JOBS PICTURE: U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs last month, a decent gain but slightly below market expectations. Jobs growth has averaged 178,000 a month so far this year, down from last year's pace of 229,000. The figures may keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise the short-term interest rate it controls by December.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "September's number is still strong and adds to this week's ... positive U.S. data," said Paul Sirani, chief market analyst at Xtrade. "The world's largest economy looks to be sailing full steam ahead to a rate hike before the end of the year."

POUND POUNDED: The British pound fell 6 percent in what's being dubbed a "flash crash" to its lowest level in more than three decades, then rebounded. The currency was trading at $1.24, down from $1.26 on Thursday.

LOWER GUIDANCE: Honeywell International fell $8.77, or 8 percent, to $106.84 after lowering its earnings estimates. The industrial giant blamed lower shipments to aviation equipment makers and delays in its military and space businesses among other items.

CHICKEN RUN: Tyson Foods plunged $7.07, or nearly 10 percent, to $67.31 after an analyst predicted a big drop in Tyson's stock because of a lawsuit that accuses it and other companies of manipulating poultry prices.

SHOPPING SPREE: Gap jumped $3.25, or 14 percent, to $26.03 after reporting September sales results that showed growth at its Old Navy chain. Other retailers rose, too. Ralph Lauren and Urban Outfitters each gained more than 2 percent.

INSURERS RISE: Property and casualty insurers are rebounding from big drops Thursday on hopes that losses from Hurricane Matthew will come in less than feared. Heritage Insurance Holdings jumped 83 cents, or 7 percent, to $13.29.

FOOD TROUBLE: Ruby Tuesday fell 34 cents, or 16 percent, to $2.17 after the restaurant chain late Thursday reported a loss in its fiscal first quarter.

UTILITIES CATCH A BREAK: Investors are bidding utility stocks up as worries about a possible rate hike by the Fed in November ease. Investors like utilities for their steady dividends, a source of income when rates are low and bond yields offer relatively little. The stocks have plunged recently, but were up 0.4 percent on Friday, making them the best-performing sector in the market.

THE QUOTE: "People were thinking, 'Maybe the Fed is going to raise rates' (in November). But now they're thinking, 'Maybe later,'" said Tom Cassidy, chief investment officer at Univest Wealth Management Division.

EUROPE'S DAY: Germany's DAX was down 0.7 percent while the CAC-40 in France fell 0.7 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 bucked the trend, rising 0.6 percent in the wake of the pound's latest decline. A lower currency potentially makes British exports more competitive as well as boosting the value of foreign earnings when brought back to the U.K.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude fell 75 cents at $49.69 a barrel while the international standard, Brent, fell 89 cents to $51.62 a barrel.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Prices of U.S. government bonds fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was flat at 1.74 percent. The euro rose to $1.1168 while the dollar fell to 103.07 yen.