Falling tech stocks weigh on US indexes; bond yields ease

NEW YORK (AP) — Falling technology and financial stocks pulled U.S. indexes back from the edge of record highs on Friday. Bond yields gave up some of their big gains from the last few days, and the dollar’s sharp climb higher downshifted.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,258 as of 3 p.m. Eastern time. The index wobbled up and down through the day, never rising by more than 0.4 percent or falling by more than 0.2 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average was close to flat 19,852. The Nasdaq composite fell 15, or 0.3 percent, to 5,442. All three indexes remain within 1 percent of their record highs.

TECHNOLOGY STRUGGLES: Tech stocks in the S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent, the worst performance among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Tech giant Oracle was one of the biggest decliners in the index. It fell $1.68, or 4.1 percent, to $39.18 after reporting revenue for its latest quarter that fell short of analysts’ expectations.

BOND YIELDS EASE: The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped to 2.59 percent from 2.60 percent late Thursday, putting at least a temporary halt to its strong rally since last month’s presidential election.

Bond yields had been jumping since Donald Trump’s surprise victory on expectations that faster economic growth and inflation may be on the way. The 10-year Treasury yield was at 1.86 percent on election day.

Yields kept rising this week after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for only the second time in a decade and said that three more increases may be on the way in 2017.

The two-year Treasury yield fell to 1.25 percent Friday from 1.28 percent late Thursday, pulling back from its highest level since the summer of 2009.

DIVIDEND REBOUND: The dip in bond yields helped to halt the weekslong slide for high-dividend stocks, at least temporarily. Utilities, real-estate stocks and telecoms have struggled on worries that higher yields will cause income investors to abandon them in favor of bonds.

Utility stocks rose 1.2 percent, the most among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500. Real-estate stocks rose 1 percent.

FINANCIAL FALL: Lower interest rates can crimp profits for banks and other financial companies. That made for a rare off-day for the sector, which has been cruising higher since last month’s election.

Financial stocks in the S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent. MetLife fell 4.7 percent, the largest decline in the sector. Bank of America fell 1.4 percent, and Goldman Sachs dropped 1.3 percent.

CHECK THE PRICE TAG: Big gains since last month’s election mean stocks are more expensive relative to their earnings, a key gauge investors use to measure whether the market is overpriced.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is trading at 19 times its earnings per share over the last 12 months, according to FactSet. That compares with its average price-earnings ratio of 15.6 over the last 15 years and is an indication that stocks are, if not expensive, no longer cheap. And that, in turn, implies lower future returns than the big gains investors have enjoyed since the Great Recession’s end.

“I do think we’re in a low-return environment,” says Bernie Williams, chief investment officer for USAA’s Wealth Management Investment Solutions. “Of course, we thought that at the start of this year, too, and here we are up 10 percent.”

JUMPING JABIL: Jabil Circuit rose $2.99, or 13.9 percent, to $24.56 after reporting stronger earnings for its latest quarter than analysts expected.

BURRITO BOARD: Chipotle Mexican Grill jumped $9.02, or 2.4 percent, to $391.37 after the company announced a shake-up of its board. Four new directors will join the board, as part of an agreement with activist investor Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square.

MARKETS ABROAD: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.3 percent, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.7 percent, South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent.

COMMODITIES: Crude oil rose $1 to settle at $51.90 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.19 to close at $55.21 a barrel in London. Natural gas slipped nearly 2 cents to settle at $3.415 per 1,000 cubic feet, wholesale gasoline rose 1.5 cents to $1.56 a gallon and heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.67 a gallon.

Gold recovered a bit after falling to its lowest price in 10 months on Thursday. It rose $7.60 to settle at $1,137.40 an ounce. Silver rose nearly 26 cents to $16.22 an ounce, and copper fell 3.6 cents to $2.56 a pound.

DOLLAR: The dollar’s recent ascent against other currencies stalled. The euro rose to $1.0432 from $1.0424 after hitting its weakest level against the dollar since early 2003 on Thursday. The British pound rose to $1.2475 from $1.2436 late Thursday.

The dollar had been on a mostly upward trend against other currencies since 2014, a result of the U.S. economy’s comparative strength over others around the world. The dollar’s rise accelerated after the Fed’s move on Wednesday.