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U.S. stocks slip as tensions with Russia simmer

Published March 24, 2014 9:31 am
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U.S. stocks are falling in afternoon trading Monday as tensions with Russia escalate. Eight of 10 industry sectors in the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell, led by health care. Apple and Herbalife rose.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,282 with an hour of trading left. The S&P 500 fell nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,857. The Nasdaq composite lost 50 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,227.

DRUG STOCKS SLUMP: A sell-off in drug makers continued. The iShares Biotech ETF fell 2.5 percent, continuing a decline that began Friday after U.S. lawmakers questioned the pricing of a Hepatitis C drug made by Gilead Sciences. The biotech ETF has risen 53 percent over the past 12 months.

"The big highfliers have done really well, and so I think there's been some profit-taking," said Randy Warren, chief investment officer of Warren Financial Service.

OTHER LOSERS: Netflix fell $27.46, or nearly 7 percent, to $378.53. Pfizer fell nearly 2 percent, the biggest loss in the Dow index.

APPLE UP: Apple rose $6.43, or 1 percent, to $539.30 after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is in talks with cable giant Comcast to offer a streaming video service using Apple set-top boxes.

HERBALIFE SURGE: The embattled health supplements company rose $3.07, or 6 percent, to $52.57 after agreeing to back billionaire Carl Icahn's three nominees for its board. Icahn is a supporter of the company in its fight with another famed investor, William Ackman, who has accuses the company of operating a pyramid scheme.

JITTERS IN EUROPE: Europe markets fell as Russia troops seized Ukrainian ships and military installations in the Crimean peninsula following Russia's annexation of the region last week. Germany's DAX fell 1.7 percent and France's CAC-40 1.4 percent. Britain's FTSE-100 fell 0.6 percent.

CHINA WATCH: Asian markets rose on hopes that China would take more steps to stimulate its economy after a manufacturing index in the world's second largest economy signaled contraction in that sector. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1.9 percent and Japan's Nikkei gained 1.8 percent. "If China continues to slow, the Chinese government will offer additional stimulus," said Mike Meyer, Assistant Vice President at EverBank. "I think we have a floor there."

TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.73 percent from 2.74 percent late Friday. Gold sank $24.80, or 1.9 percent, to $1,311.20 an ounce. The price of crude oil was basically unchanged at $99.57 a barrel.




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