Banks, insurers and other financial companies pulled U.S. stocks lower, placing the market on track for its fifth consecutive loss and more in Wednesday’s stock market update. Traders sent government bond prices higher, sending yields lower. Losses in technology stocks and utilities outweighed gains in media and communications companies. Energy stocks also rose as crude oil prices snapped a 12-day losing streak.


KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 20 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,701 at closing time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 205 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,080. The average briefly fell 350 points. The Nasdaq composite dropped 64 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,136. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,504. The benchmark S&P 500 index is coming off a four-day losing streak.

THE QUOTE: “We’re still … contending with the implications of the sell-off from October,” said David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management. “The market is still somewhat unsettled and somewhat volatile as investors digest that move and reposition for what they think will happen next.”

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose as traders favored safe-haven assets, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.12 percent from 3.14 percent late Tuesday.

The drop in bond yields, which affect interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, helped pull bank shares lower. Citizens Financial Group dropped 3.6 percent to $36.35.

Several big insurers also fell sharply. Progressive slumped 8.4 percent to $65.55.

OIL REBOUND: The price of U.S. crude oil closed higher, ending a 12-day skid. The rebound came a day after U.S. crude oil had its steepest drop in more than three years. All told, benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 1 percent to settle at $56.25 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 1 percent to close at $66.12 a barrel in London.

Worries over rising oil production around the world and weakening demand from developing countries have been weighing on oil prices.

“When it first started going down in October there was some concern that demand was not going to hold up and it fed into those broader concerns that there was some softness in the broader economy,” Lefkowitz said. “More recently, it’s been more of a concern about too much supply.”

Forecasts calling for a cold snap across much of the Northeast and South helped push the price of natural gas sharply higher. It soared 17.9 percent to $4.84 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In other energy trading, heating oil rose 1.6 percent to $2.10 a gallon and wholesale gasoline gained 1.2 percent to $1.56 a gallon.

The rebound in oil and gas prices helped boost energy stocks. Cimarex Energy climbed 3.5 percent to $87.33.

TECH SLIDE: Technology stocks took some of the heaviest losses. Apple dropped 2.4 percent to $187.67.

FIRE FALLOUT: Shares in Pacific Gas & Electric sank 22.9 percent to $25.19, extending the electric utility’s steep slide this week. The company told regulators last week that it experienced a problem on a transmission line in an area of Northern California where a deadly wildfire erupted last week. People who lost homes in the blaze sued PG&E Tuesday, accusing the utility of negligence and blaming it for the fire. PG&E’s slide led a broad sell-off in utilities stocks.

RETAIL THERAPY: Macy’s slid 6.5 percent to $33.45 as traders grew concerned that the department store chain may have difficulty keeping up its streak of sales gains, even after the company upped its annual earnings expectations.

UNDERCOOKED: Blue Apron shares declined 4.1 percent to $1.17 after the meal kit shipping company issued a disappointing fourth-quarter outlook and said it is taking “strategic actions” that included slashing 4 percent of its workforce.

LUXURIOUS FIT: Canada Goose Holdings jumped 10.3 percent to $64.62 after the high-end coat maker reported earnings and revenue that beat analysts’ forecasts.

BIG GAINER: Media and communications companies led the gainers in the S&P 500. Comcast rose 2.3 percent to $38.60.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.51 yen from 113.86 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1338 from $1.1268.

METALS: The price of gold gained 0.7 percent to $1,210.10 an ounce. Silver also rose 0.7 percent to $14.08 an ounce. Copper added 0.9 percent to $2.71 a pound.

OVERSEAS STOCK MARKET UPDATE: Major stock indexes in Europe fell, giving up early gains. Germany’s DAX dropped 0.5 percent, while France’s CAC lost 0.7 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched up 0.2 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.7 percent. South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent.

© The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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