US stocks mostly higher in afternoon trading; oil slumps

New York Stock Exchange

Banks and other financial companies led U.S. stocks mostly higher in late-afternoon trading Thursday, putting the Dow Jones industrial average on course to close at a new high. Consumer-focused companies, utilities and telecom stocks were among the biggest decliners. The market was coming off a big rally following the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow climbed 256 points, or 1.4 percent, to 18,846 as of 3:12 p.m. Eastern time. The average was up more than 200 points from its last record-high close on August 15. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 9 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,173. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 22 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,228.

TRUMP BOUNCE: The upcoming Trump presidency, which will commence on Jan. 20, triggered a strong rally on Wednesday that extended somewhat into trading Thursday. Traders were focusing on Trump’s promises to boost U.S. economic growth through infrastructure spending and by cutting red tape, rather than uncertainties such as what he might do with trade agreements. Before the election, markets had been worried about a Trump presidency because his campaign promises carried few policy details, making him an unknown quantity compared with rival Hillary Clinton.

THE QUOTE: “We had a gangbuster day yesterday; call it a Trump rally,” said Doug Cote, chief market strategist for Voya Investment Management. “Today we’re having a little breather, a little rest, but the key thing that will also keep the market going is the S&P 500 corporate earnings for the third quarter are positive for the first time in six quarters.”

BANKS SURGE: Banks and other financial companies got a boost amid speculation that a Trump presidency could result in higher interest rates and less government regulation. JPMorgan Chase climbed $3.51, or 4.8 percent, to $76.76. Goldman Sachs rose $11.36, or 5.9 percent, to $203.99. Wells Fargo gained $3.74, or 7.8 percent, to $51.74, while Discover Financial Services added $3.06, or 5.1 percent, to $63.35.

BETTER QUARTER: Macy’s rose 6.4 percent after the department store chain raised its sale outlook for the year, citing improved business in the third quarter. The stock gained $2.44 to $40.82.

BRIGHT OUTLOOK: Kohl’s surged 11.7 percent after the retailer said it sees positive trends heading into the upcoming holiday shopping season. The stock added $5.36 to $51.06.

TECH SLIDE: Some big names in the technology sector were trading lower. Netflix slumped $6.41, or 5.3 percent, to $115.78, while Amazon.com slid $27.61, or 3.6 percent, to $744.27. Microsoft fell 82 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $59.35.

NO DIAL TONE: Phone companies were trading lower, part of a sell-off in telecom and other safe-haven stocks. AT&T lost 89 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $36.55, while Verizon slid $1.14, or 2.4 percent, to $46.72. T-Mobile US lost $1, or 1.9 percent, to $52.01.

MIXED RESULTS: Novavax slumped 19.4 percent after the biopharmaceutical company reported third-quarter revenue that fell short of financial analysts’ forecasts. The stock slid 33 cents to $1.37.

BONDS: The sell-off in bonds continued, sending bond prices lower and kicking up the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to 2.12 percent, the highest it’s been since January, from 2.06 percent late Wednesday. That yield is a benchmark used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including home mortgages. Traders have been selling bonds more aggressively to hedge against the possibility that interest rates, which have been ultra-low for years, could rise steadily again under Trump’s administration.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: The major stock indexes in Europe turned lower after an early rally. Germany’s DAX slid 0.1 percent, while the CAC-40 in France fell 0.3 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 1.2 percent. Optimism that Trump’s election will improve U.S.-Russia relations helped lift the Micex index in Moscow 0.9 percent.

In Asia, shares posted hefty gains as they responded to the optimism recorded in Europe and the U.S. the day before. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index was the standout performer, rocketing 6.7 percent after sliding more than 5 percent the day before. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 2.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.9 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 surged 3.3 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 61 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $44.66 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 52 cents, or 1.1 percent, to close at $45.84 a barrel in London.

Other energy futures also closed lower. Wholesale gasoline slid 2 cents to $1.34 a gallon. Heating oil fell a penny to $1.44 a gallon. Natural gas lost 6 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $2.63 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: The price of gold fell $7.10 to $1,266.40 an ounce, while silver added 36 cents, or 2 percent, to $18.74 an ounce. Copper rose 9 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $2.55 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar has been fairly solid since Trump’s victory. The U.S. currency rose to 106.85 yen from 105.84 yen on Wednesday. The euro was down to $1.0888 from $1.0930. The Mexican peso continued to weaken against the dollar. One dollar bought 20.61 pesos as of Thursday afternoon, more than the 19.87 pesos it bought late Wednesday. Investors worry that Trump’s anti-immigration stance and intention to repeal a trade pact with Mexico could hurt that country’s economy.