Stocks dip as media, health care companies fall; banks jump


NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks dipped Wednesday as media and health care companies took losses. The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, but bond yields and banks rose as investors felt rates will increase soon.

First-quarter results for most companies have been good, but stocks were lower all day as a few big-name companies disclosed shaky results. Media companies tumbled after Time Warner said its cable advertising revenue fell. Apple slipped after iPhone sales came in lower than investors expected, but the stock recovered nearly all of its losses.

The Federal Reserve left interest rates where they were, but also said it expects the economy to start growing at a faster pace. That could set the stage for the Fed to boost interest rates in June. Bond yields and interest rates rose after the Fed made its statement. That sent bank stocks higher, which narrowed the market’s losses. The dollar also got a bit stronger.

Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial, said he agrees that the economy will improve following a sluggish first quarter.

“Earnings have been strong across the board,” he said. “The economy isn’t quite as weak as that GDP (report) makes it look.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 3.04 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,388.13. The Dow Jones industrial average added 8.01 points to 20,957.90. The Nasdaq composite sank 22.82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,072.55. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, declined 8.44 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,390.92.

The Federal Reserve said economic growth slowed over the last six weeks as inflation stayed low and spending didn’t increase much. However it expects growth to pick up and said inflation should eventually reach its target of 2 percent. Experts think it’s likely the central bank will raise rates in June, as it did last December and again in March. Detrick said he thinks the Fed will raise interest rates two more times this year.

Media companies slumped after Time Warner, the owner of HBO and TBS, said revenue from cable advertising fell in the first quarter. Time Warner has agreed to be bought by AT&T, so its stock hardly budged, but its competitors slumped. Walt Disney shed $2.75, or 2.4 percent, to $111.62, for its biggest loss in almost a year. Viacom sank $3.20, or 7.5 percent, to $39.26 and CBS lost $2.20, or 3.4 percent, to $63.46. Twenty-First Century Fox gave up $1.55, or 5.1 percent, to $28.88.

Apple’s first-quarter iPhone sales and projections for the current quarter weren’t quite as good as analysts hoped. Apple stock struggled in late 2015 and for much of 2016 as iPhone sales slowed down and then fell for the first time. But they’ve climbed 27 percent this year and the stock closed at an all-time high Tuesday. It fell as much as 2.2 percent early Wednesday, but finished down just 45 cents at $147.06.

Irish generic drug maker Perrigo said its offices were searched as part of a Justice Department investigation into pricing by generic drug companies. Perrigo dropped $3.88, or 5.1 percent, to $72.35. Several other companies have previously disclosed subpoenas connected to that probe, including Mylan and Lannett. Mylan fell 98 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $37.19. Lannett had a disappointing quarter as drug pricing remained weak, and its stock tumbled $5.05, or 18.6 percent, to $22.10.

Biotech drugmaker Gilead Sciences reported disappointing profit and revenue as sales of its hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni plunged in all major markets, and its stock gave up $1.38, or 2 percent, to $67.21.

Bond prices turned lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.32 percent from 2.29 percent and banks climbed.

U.S. benchmark crude added 16 cents to $47.82 a barrel in New York. On Tuesday U.S. crude oil closed at its lowest price since mid-November. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 33 cents to $50.79 a barrel in London.

Wireless spectrum license company Straight Path Communications continued to soar. It said it’s received an all-stock offer worth $135.96 per share from an undisclosed buyer. AT&T had agreed to pay $95.63 per share. The company said it informed AT&T that the new offer is superior, and AT&T will have three days to decide if it wants to raise its offer.

Straight Path’s stock jumped $29.38, or 23.4 percent, to $155.20.

Vehicle parts maker Delphi Automotive surged after it said it will spin off its powertrain systems business into a separate publicly traded company. Investors often applaud such transactions, which are tax-free, because they can help fast-growing businesses concentrate on expanding. Delphi’s stock added $8.56, or 10.9 percent, to $87.01.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $1.53 a gallon. Heating oil stayed at $1.47 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3 cents to $3.23 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $8.50 to $1,248.50 an ounce. Silver lost 29 cents to $16.55 an ounce. Copper dropped 9 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $2.54 a pound.

The dollar rose to 112.64 yen from 112 yen. The euro slid to $1.0906 from $1.0928.

The British FTSE 100 retreated 0.2 percent and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent. The DAX of Germany rose 0.2 percent. Markets in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea were closed for a holiday.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay