Stock indexes shake off an early wobble, turn mostly higher – Virginian-Pilot

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Stocks are turning mostly higher in early afternoon trading, shaking off an early wobble, as banks and health care companies push higher. The gains come a day after steep declines as the market’s recent run of choppy trading continues. Several big technology companies fell, but Facebook regained some of the ground it lost recently. Amazon, Netflix and Tesla dropped. Energy companies fell in tandem with oil prices. Bond yields continue to decline.

KEEPING SCORE: After wobbling between gains and losses for much of the day, the benchmark S&P 500 index was up 7 points, or 0.3 percent, at 2,618 as of 12:31 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 107 points, or 0.5 percent, to 23,969. The Nasdaq composite edged down 11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,995. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,516. More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

THE QUOTE: “Tech has had such a tremendous run-up and has outperformed some of the other sectors,” said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. “There may be other areas now that are more attractive, and we’ve seen some strength recently in some of the more defensive-oriented sectors.”

TECH IN TROUBLE: Losses in technology companies, which led the market’s steep sell-off on Tuesday, continued to weigh on the market Wednesday. Software company Red Hat slid $9.06, or 5.9 percent, to $145.36. Facebook, which has taken a beating in recent days over privacy concerns, was up 1.3 percent after the social media giant said it is giving its privacy tools a makeover. The move is a response to criticisms over its data practices and the prospect of tighter European regulations in the coming months. The stock gained $1.89 to $154.02.

BIG DECLINERS: Consumer goods and services stocks also fell sharply. Amazon lost $66.94, or 4.5 percent, to $1,430. Netflix also declined, shedding $15.43, or 5.1 percent, to $285.26.

ROUGH ROAD: Tesla fell 6.5 percent after Moody’s downgraded the electric car maker’s credit rating. The move piles more pain on Tesla, whose stock has been pummeled by news that authorities will investigate a fatal crash that involved a Tesla electric SUV equipped with a semi-autonomous control system. The stock lost $18.19 to $260.99.

TAKEOVER TALK: Irish drugmaker Shire Plc jumped 14.5 percent after Japanese rival Takeda said it’s considering a takeover offer. Takeda said that buying Shire would enhance its R&D and its reach into the U.S. Shire’s U.S.-listed shares climbed $18.71 to $147.58.

A GOOD STRETCH: Lululemon Athletica jumped 10.5 percent after the seller of premium yoga wear reported strong results for its fourth quarter and also released an upbeat outlook. The stock gained $8.25 to $86.96.

WINNING DECOR: Shares in RH, the operator of Restoration Hardware, vaulted 22.5 percent after the home furnishings retailer reported earnings that easily beat analysts’ forecasts. The stock rose $16.96 to $92.27.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.36, or 2.1 percent, to $63.89 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell $1.29, or 1.9 percent, to $68.17 per barrel in London.

The slide in oil prices weighed on energy sector stocks. Occidental Petroleum fell $2.10, or 3.2 percent, to $63.71.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.75 percent from 2.78 percent late Tuesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 106.38 yen from 105.54 yen Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.2346 from $1.2402.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX lost 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 slid 0.3 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent. Indexes in Asia finished lower. Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 1.3 percent and South Korea’s Kospi slid 1.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slumped 2.5 percent. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries also fell.

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