Technology companies led a broad slide for U.S. stocks in late-afternoon trading Wednesday, placing the market on course to extend losses from a day earlier. Consumer-focused companies also were big decliners. Energy stocks fell as the price of crude oil closed lower a day after its biggest loss since October. Financial and phone company stocks were headed higher.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 12 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,566 as of 3:26 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 125 points, or 0.5 percent, to 23,284. The Nasdaq composite slid 26 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,711. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 3 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,467.
THE QUOTE: Unlike October's broad market rally, fewer stocks and sectors have been notching gains this month, and the latest market decline reflects that, said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird.
"And that's exemplary of a market that's losing momentum, and that's the real story here," Bittles said. "It means the market is struggling here, and it could mean that a lot of the good news on the economy, earnings and even the potential for a tax-reform bill are to a great extent already built into current prices."
TAX OVERHAUL: Investors were keeping an eye on Washington D.C., where Senate Republicans were pushing their version of a major tax overhaul that would slash corporate taxes. Expectations of a big business tax cut have helped lift the market higher this year. But the Senate measure was complicated by the last-minute inclusion of a repeal of the section of the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans to get insurance coverage.
ECONOMIC SNAPSHOTS: Traders were also weighing new government data on inflation, retail sales and manufacturing. The Labor Department said consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent last month, the smallest gain in three months. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2 percent in October. And a closely watched report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed manufacturing expanded at a slower pace this month in New York, but remained at a healthy level.
REBOOT: Technology sector stocks, which have done far better than the rest of the market this year, were taking some of the biggest losses. Chipmaker Nvidia lost $3.50, or 1.6 percent, to $210.68. Macom Solutions Technology Holdings slumped 17.6 percent after the chipmaker's latest quarterly results fell short of Wall Street's expectations. The stock gave up $6.44 to $30.17.
MISSING THE MARK: Target slumped 8.6 percent after the retailer issued a weak profit forecast for the quarter including the holiday season. The stock was down $5.16 to $54.93.
IN A SELLING MOOD: IBM shares were down 1 percent after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway disclosed that it sold another chunk of the technology company's stock. IBM declined $1.51 to $147.38.
HOME SWEET HOME: Beazer Homes USA rose 0.6 percent after the homebuilder posted a far-larger profit and stronger sales than analysts expected. The stock gained 12 cents to $21.68.
BANKING ON FINANCIALS: Investors bid up shares in banks and other financial companies. Bank of America climbed 57 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $26.80.
OIL SLIDE: Crude oil prices pared some of their early losses, but still finished lower. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 37 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $55.33 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 34 cents, or 0.5 percent, to close at $61.87 a barrel in London. A report from the International Energy Agency pointing to strong production growth in the years ahead, particularly in the U.S., has weighed on oil prices this week. That's pulled down energy stocks, such as Hess. The stock was down $1.02, or 2.3 percent, to $43.89.
BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.33 percent from 2.37 percent late Tuesday.
ENERGY: Wholesale gasoline gave up 2 cents to $1.74 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas declined 2 cents to $3.08 per 1,000 cubic feet.
METALS: Gold fell $5.20 to $1,277.70 an ounce. Silver slid 10 cents to $16.97 an ounce. Copper shed 1 cent to $3.06 a pound.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 112.89 yen from 113.40 yen on Tuesday. The euro was unchanged at $1.1794.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent, while the CAC 40 in France slid 0.3 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.6 percent lower. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index tumbled 1.6 percent as manufacturers' shares were stung by a stronger yen. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.0 percent, while Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent. The Kospi of South Korea declined 0.3 percent.