Stocks stabilize after an early slide; Japan’s Nikkei slumps

U.S. stocks veered lower in morning trading Tuesday as investors weighed the latest batch of company earnings news. Telecommunications services and energy companies were among the biggest decliners. The market spent much of the morning shifting between small gains and losses. European markets fell following steep losses in Japan.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was down 56 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,970 as of 11:18 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 slipped five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,847. The Nasdaq composite fell 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,271. Stocks are coming off a two-day losing streak.

SECTOR TALLY: Six of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index moved lower, with telecommunications services stocks down the most, 2 percent. Materials stocks led the gainers.

SALES CONCERNS: Viacom slumped 14.4 percent after the owner of Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures reported lower revenue for its latest quarter. The stock slid $6.03 to $35.82.

BAD FLICK: Twenty-First Century Fox fell 2.4 percent after the film and television production company reported quarterly revenue that fell short of analysts’ estimates. The stock shed 59 cents to $24.

GOOD GRIP: Goodyear Tire & Rubber climbed 4.3 percent after its latest quarterly earnings easily beat Wall Street’s forecasts. The stock rose $1.14 to $27.48.

RIDING HIGH: Martin Marietta Materials vaulted 7.5 percent after the construction materials company reported a sharp increase in earnings. The stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index, climbing $8.85 to $126.10.

ROUGH GOING: Stock markets have endured a torrid start to the year as investors have fretted over a number of issues, including the fall in the price of oil to multi-year lows, a slowdown in China and whether many parts of the global economy will fall into recession and suffer a debilitating period of deflation, or falling prices. Global equities have now lost about $6 trillion since the start of the year. In January, that was largely due to worries over the slowdown in China and the slump in the price of oil.

EUROPEAN MARKETS: Stocks managed to eke out gains early on in Europe before succumbing to another bout of selling. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 1.3 percent, while Germany’s DAX fell 1.6 percent. The CAC-40 in France was 2.2 percent lower.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei index tumbled 5.4 percent and the interest rate on the country’s benchmark bond dropped into negative territory for the first time. The yields on Japan’s bonds have been low for years as the country kept its interest rates at or near zero.

ENERGY: The International Energy Agency, which advises countries on energy policy, said oil prices will continue to come under pressure as supply is set to outpace demand this year. After heavy losses Monday, benchmark U.S. crude oil was up 5 cents to $29.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 76 cents to $32.12 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.73 percent from 1.75 percent late Monday. The dollar was down at 115 yen from 115.58 yen. As recently as the end of January, the dollar was trading above 121 yen. The euro up $1.1311 from $1.1186.