US stocks mixed as phone companies fall, drugmakers rise


NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are little changed Wednesday as drug companies trade higher and phone and utility companies slip. Investors snap up bonds, keeping yields on long-term Treasury notes near all-time lows. The prices of gold and silver, which are around two-year highs, rose further.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 29 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,811 as of 11:25 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped 1 point to 2,087. The Nasdaq composite rose 16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,839.

BONDS: Bond yields continued to trade near all-time lows as investors seek safety following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The demand is keeping bond prices high and yields low. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was little changed from late Tuesday at 1.38 percent. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond remained at 2.15 percent. According to Tradeweb, both yields set all-time lows earlier on Wednesday, reaching 1.32 percent and 2.10 percent, respectively.

Bond yields have tumbled over the last few months following a weak U.S. jobs report and then unexpected result of the British referendum. While the yields on U.S. bonds have fallen, they remain higher than yields from other advanced economies, and the U.S. economy appears to be in better shape.

HANGING UP: Phone company stocks took the biggest losses. Considered a safe investment, they are the best-performing sector on the S&P 500 over the last month, and AT&T and Verizon are both trading at long-time highs. Frontier Communications gave up 10 cents, or 2 percent, to $4.88. Verizon slipped 37 cents to $55.60.

HEALTH CARE: Drugmakers AbbVie and Biogen led health care stocks higher. The two companies said that regulators in the European Union approved their drug Zinbryta, a treatment for multiple sclerosis that can be take just once a month. AbbVie stock rose $1.50, or 2.4 percent, to $63.42 and Biogen gained $3.18, or 1.3 percent, to $245.21.

MELROSE’S PLACE: Nortek, which makes heating and ventilation systems for buildings, agreed to be acquired by Melrose Industries PLC for $86 per share, or $1.4 billion. Nortek stock jumped $25.25, or 40.4 percent, to $87.74.

GOLDEN: The price of gold rose $13.30, or 1 percent, to $1,372 an ounce, and silver gained 30 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $20.21 an ounce. Gold is trading at its highest price since March 2014 while silver is at its highest price since August of that year. Newmont Mining gained 62 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $41.

CURRENCIES: The British pound continued to weaken. It’s at its lowest in more than 30 year and fell to $1.2887 from $1.3032 Wednesday. The dollar fell to 100.85 yen from 101.55 yen on Tuesday. The euro dipped to $1.1068 from $1.1075.

GROUNDED: United Continental and American Airlines fell after Credit Suisse downgraded the two airlines. Analyst Julie Yates said she expects disappointing earnings and revenue from the companies, and said the stocks won’t bring in strong returns until the global economy gets stronger or the two airlines cut back on capacity. United gave up $1.49, or 3.7 percent, to $38.80 and American lost $1.07, or 3.7 percent, to $27.86.

ENERGY: Oil prices were little changed, but gas prices sank after the U.S. government said stockpiles of gasoline jumped last week. The Energy Information Administration said stockpiles rose by 1.4 million barrels. That was a surprise to analysts, as Platts says they expected gasoline stockpiles to fall by 900,000 barrels.

The price of wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $1.41 a gallon. Marathon Petroleum fell $2.27, or 5.9 percent, to $36.51 and Valero Energy fell $1.91, or 3.8 percent, to $47.93. Phillips 66 slumped $2.52, or 3.2 percent, to $75.41.

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 10 cents to $46.50 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 21 cents to $47.75 a barrel in London.

OVERSEAS: Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.1 percent while France’s CAC lost 1.8 percent and Germany’s DAX shed 1.7 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s Kospi each lost 1.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slid 1.2 percent.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay

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