U.S. stocks veered lower in midday trading Thursday, weighed down by disappointing earnings and outlooks from big several companies, including American Express, Caterpillar and 3M. Utilities were among the biggest decliners. The slide has the stock market on course for its third down day in a row.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 92 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,758 as of 12:10 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,104. The Nasdaq composite lost 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,161.
SIZING UP EARNINGS: Roughly one-third of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings so far, and most have exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. Many companies have also given cautious outlooks for the second half of the year, however, giving investors reason to pause.
“Between the good news of making or beating expectations but giving some cautious guidance going forward, the market may be just sitting and waiting to see how the rest of the (earnings) announcements come in,” said Tim Dreiling, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
BLUE-CHIP BAGGAGE: American Express, Caterpillar and 3M all released weaker-than-expected results, helping pull the Dow lower. American Express fell $2.81, or 3.6 percent, to $76.18. Caterpillar lost $2.73, or 3.4 percent, to $77.03, while 3M declined $5.08, or 3.3 percent, to $150.33.
CRUISE CONTROL: Shares in General Motors surged 4.9 percent after the automaker’s second-quarter earnings handily beat financial analysts’ forecasts. The stock rose $1.48 to $31.78.
RAILROADED: Union Pacific shares fell 4.6 percent after the railroad said its second-quarter earnings slumped 7 percent as coal volumes plummeted. The stock declined $4.52 to $93.14.
HIGH FLYER: Southwest Airlines was up 5 percent a day after the company reported its ninth straight quarter of record earnings. The stock gained $1.77 to $36.89.
SECTOR VIEW: Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 were down. Utilities stocks fell the most, 1.9 percent. Technology stocks were slightly higher.
GREEK FEARS ABATE: Greece’s parliament approved new creditor-demanded reforms despite a revolt among hardliners in the ruling coalition, paving the way for bailout discussions to officially begin. The reforms to the judiciary and banking systems were the final hurdle the financially-battered country was obliged to clear before beginning talks with its creditors on a third bailout worth around 85 billion euros ($93 billion). Without the money Greece would face financial ruin and forced exit from the euro currency club.
OVERSEAS MARKETS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gained 0.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite index gained 2.4 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 inched down 0.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi was little changed.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 30 cents to $48.89 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 11 cents to $56.02 a barrel in London.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.30 percent from 2.32 percent late Wednesday.