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Stocks Slide as Investors Wait for Details on Trade Talks

Stocks Slide as Investors Wait for Details on Trade Talks

Stocks gave up an early rally and ended broadly lower on Wall Street, led by declines in health care companies.

UnitedHealth Group sank 4.1 percent Monday, the biggest loss among the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Technology companies and banks also fell. Salesforce.com sank 3.7 percent and Charles Schwab lost 2.5 percent.

AT&T fell 2.7 percent after announcing a revamp of its WarnerMedia division, which includes HBO and other cable channels.

STOCK MARKET UPDATE

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,792. The Dow average lost 206 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,819. The Nasdaq declined 17 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,577. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.73 percent.

Major indexes in Europe finished mostly higher.

NOT FEELING WELL: Health care stocks led the sell-off among companies in the S&P 500. WellCare Health Plans dropped 15.3 percent.

MEDIA MAKEOVER: AT&T slid 2.9 percent on news the telecom company is reorganizing its WarnerMedia unit, which includes HBO and Warner Bros.

ZOMBIE COMPETITION: Children’s clothing retailer Children’s Place gave investors a dismal forecast after reporting a disappointing fourth quarter. The stock skidded 11.3 percent.

The main issue is competition from dying competitors holding liquidation sales. Rivals Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores have been in the process of shutting down, which means liquidation sales and better deals for shoppers.

“We have never experienced a total liquidation of a direct competitor of the size and proximity of Gymboree,” Children’s Place CEO Jane Elfers said in a prepared statement.

HOMEBUILDERS RISE: PulteGroup, Lennar and other homebuilders rose after a government report said 2018 was a record year for construction spending.

The Commerce Department reported that construction spending rose 4.1 percent to $1.3 trillion, marking an all-time high. Spending edged lower in December, though, reflecting slower growth within the wider housing sector.

PulteGroup rose 3.5 percent and Lennar gained 1.1 percent.

BIOTECH BUMP: Gene therapy developer Nightstar Therapeutics vaulted 66.4 percent after biotech giant Biogen offered to buy it for $877 million in cash. Nightstar is developing treatments for rare eye conditions.

Biogen and other large drug developers have been trying to expand their portfolios to include gene therapy and treatments for rare conditions. Those treatments are expensive to develop, but command better prices if they make it to market.

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