Stocks fall as technology shares slid; oil falls 3%

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology and energy companies, along with retailers, pushed the stock market broadly lower in midday trading on Wall Street Wednesday.

Technology stocks have been particularly volatile as the U.S. and China jostle over trade. They've swung between gains and losses this week after the U.S. proposed restrictions on technology sales to Chinese companies and then granted a 90-day grace period.

Qualcomm and Apple drove the declines in technology stocks. Qualcomm plunged following a federal judge's ruling against the chipmaker in an antitrust case. Several other chipmakers, including Intel, Broadcom and Micron also fell. An S&P index that track chip stocks was down 2.1%. Apple fell 1.6%.

Energy stocks fell along with the price of oil after the U.S. Energy Department reported a large increase in crude supplies for last week. Oil services companies Halliburton and Schlumberger each dropped 3%. The price of oil fell 3.2% to $61.10 per barrel.

Investors digested the latest batch of earnings reports from retailers. Home improvement retailer Lowe's slashed its forecast for the year following weak financial results. Its stock fell 11%. Nordstrom fell 9.4% after reporting disappointing financial results. Target was the bright spot in the sector and rose 9.4% after toppling Wall Street's profit forecasts.

Utilities, real estate stocks and consumer staples eked out small gains as investors moved to less risky holdings.

Looking ahead, investors are awaiting the release of the minutes to the Fed's last policy meeting for hints on whether it is leaning more toward raising or cutting rates in the future.

ANALYST'S TAKE: The trade war continues to be the wild card hanging over the market, said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth for Glenmede. The economy is in the late stages of a now decade-long expansion and investors are questioning how much longer it can continue.

"Everybody is looking over their shoulders trying to figure out when this cycle will end," he said.

Corporate earnings and federal monetary policy have ceased to be major concerns, Pride said. That leaves trade as the most closely watched and currently volatile issue.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 0.3% as of 12:10 p.m. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 99 points, or 0.4%, to 25,777. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.4%.

BULLSEYE: Target soared 9.4% after a surge in online sales pushed first quarter profit well beyond Wall Street forecasts.

The retailer has been aggressively expanding its online shopping options, including same-day services and in-store pickups. A key sales measure jumped 4.8%, also beating analysts' forecasts.

The company has also been expanding its physical footprint with smaller stores in urban areas, along with launching its own exclusive clothing brands.

LAID LOW: Home improvement retailer Lowe's fell 11.1% after it slashed its outlook for the year following a weak first quarter.

The company said it is dealing with rising costs and outdated pricing. The company said it will modernize its pricing process in an effort to improve margins. The latest results come a day after key rival Home Depot reported solid first quarter financial results.

CHIPPED STOCK: Qualcomm tumbled 12% after a federal judge ruled that the company unlawfully stifled cellphone chip market competition and charged excessive licensing fees.

The chipmaker was ordered to negotiate or renegotiate licensing deals with customers. It must also license its patents to rival chip makers at fair prices and can't sign exclusive supply agreements with smartphone makers like Apple that block competitors from access to that market.

Other chipmakers dropped. Micron Technologies fell 2.3% and Broadcom slid 1.8%.

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