Retailers, Homebuilders Lead Early Slide in US Stocks

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks moved broadly lower in early trading Thursday, extending the market's losing streak into a sixth day. Losses among retailers, homebuilders and health care companies outweighed gains in technology stocks. The slide followed a sell-off in European indexes as the British pound slumped amid discord over a new deal for Britain's exit from the European Union.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 15 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,686 as of 10:08 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 134 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,946. The Nasdaq composite dropped 24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,111. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,496.

The benchmark S&P 500 has declined five straight days. The indexes are now on track to finish the month with a loss.

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BREXIT: European markets were jittery over a flare-up in discord over British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for Britain's departure from the European Union next year. She persuaded a majority in her Cabinet to back an agreement that would allow Britain to stay in a customs union while a trade treaty is negotiated, but the deal faces an uncertain fate in Parliament and two of her Cabinet ministers, including the Brexit minister, resigned in protest.

The heightened uncertainty over making sure Britain's departure from the European Union next year is smooth sent the pound lower against other currencies and hit British bank stocks. The disarray surrounding the process has thrown London's future as a financial center into jeopardy. U.S.-listed shares of Barclay's slid 5.7 percent to $8.49 and Royal Bank of Scotland plunged 9.4 percent to $5.90.

ROTTEN RETAIL: Several department store chains slumped. J.C. Penney fell 1.6 percent to $1.20 after the company withdrew profit guidance and lowered its sales expectations for the year. Macy's gave up 4.6 percent to $31.69. Target dropped 2.9 percent to $80.71.

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HOUSE OF PAIN: Homebuilders were trading lower. Lennar declined 3.8 percent to $40.05, while PulteGroup lost 3.6 percent to $23.67.

TECH RALLY: Technology companies led the gainers. Cisco Systems rose 4.3 percent to $46.24 a day after the company reported quarterly results that topped Wall Street's forecasts.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.5 percent to $56.60 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 1 percent to $66.76 a barrel in London. Natural gas, which spiked Wednesday amid forecasts calling for a cold snap across much of the Northeast and South, slumped 10 percent to $4.35 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose as traders continued to shift money into low-risk assets. That sent the 10-year Treasury note down to 3.09 percent from 3.12 percent late Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.25 yen from 113.51 yen on Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.1305 from $1.1338. The pound plunged to $1.2799 from $1.3038 on concerns that a new deal to enable the United Kingdom to separate from the European Union will not get approved by Britain's parliament.

OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe fell. German's DAX dropped 0.5 percent and France's CAC 40 shed 1 percent. London's FTSE 100 slid 0.5 percent. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.7 percent and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gave up 0.2 percent. Seoul's Kospi gained 1 percent. India's Sensex rose 0.6 percent. Bangkok and New Zealand declined while Taiwan and other Southeast Asian markets rose.


By AP reporter Alex Veiga

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