US stock indexes veer lower in afternoon trading
U.S. stock indexes edged lower in afternoon trading Thursday as losses in industrial and health care companies outweighed gains elsewhere in the market.
Northrop Grumman fell 1.5 percent, while Bristol-Myers Squibb lost 3.1 percent. Several retailers and homebuilders also declined.
Technology companies and banks led the gainers. Apple rose 1.1 percent and Wells Fargo added 0.9 percent.
Reports of a criminal investigation into Facebook's data-sharing practices weighed on the social media giant's shares.
The market was coming off a solid three-day rally as it reclaimed some of the momentum it had in January and February. Investors have been weighing a mixed bag of economic data while keeping a close watch on global trade issues. The markets have mostly brushed off the chaos surrounding Britain's exit the European Union, its key trading bloc.
Boeing started to level off after falling throughout the week as nations and airlines ground its newest 737s over safety concerns. A second deadly crash over the weekend involving its 737 Max 8 and safety concerns stunted the company's stock gains.
Investors are also still waiting for more details on trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. Media reports had stoked hope that a summit would take place this month, but no concrete announcement has been made.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 25,691 as of 2:13 p.m. Eastern Time. The S&P 500 index and Nasdaq composite dropped 0.1 percent.
Major indexes in Europe finished higher.
ANALYST'S TAKE: Investors are still waiting for some more news on U.S.-China trade negotiations before they feel comfortable pushing the market much higher, said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
Despite some softness over the last few weeks, the U.S. stock market is still considered a safe haven relative to the rest of the world, he said.
"We're still the lead sled dogs here, we're pulling the global economy along," Wren said.
BAGGY FIT: Tailored Brands, which owns Men's Wearhouse, plunged 23.4 percent after giving investors a surprisingly weak first-quarter profit forecast. The company has been trying to increase sales at both Men's Wearhouse and its Jos. A. Bank stores, but is facing a tougher retail market.
Shares in other apparel retailers also declined. L Brands dropped 3.4 percent, while Gap gave up 2.1 percent.
DOLLAR DIP: Dollar General fell 7.9 percent after the company's fourth-quarter profit fell short of Wall Street forecasts. The discount-store operator also gave investors a weak full-year profit forecast.
Rival discount chain Dollar Tree dropped 2.1 percent.
OVERSHARING: Facebook fell 1.5 percent after the New York Times reported that its data-sharing practices are now under criminal investigation.
The investigation into how it sells data is the latest in a list of privacy scandals the social media company faces. Its privacy practices have already been scrutinized by The Federal Trade Commission. The company and its CEO have also faced Congressional inquiries.
HOUSING PAUSE? The Commerce Department said sales of new U.S. homes slumped 6.9 percent in January, a possible sign that would-be buyers paused during the government shutdown even as mortgage rates continued to decline. The report also showed sales prices declined 3.8 percent. Homebuilder stocks were mostly trading lower following the report. Hovnanian Enterprises dropped 2.5 percent.