By BERNARD CONDON, AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are dropping in early trading Thursday as telephone companies and utilities continue to drag major indexes lower. High-dividend stocks fell for a second day as investors braced themselves for the likelihood of an interest rate increase in June at the Federal Reserve’s next policy meeting. Verizon fell 2 percent and AT&T lost 1 percent.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 154 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,372 at 10:23 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 19 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,029. The Nasdaq composite fell 43 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,696.
FED IN FOCUS: A surprise indication from the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting that it may raise interest rates in June is weighing on global stock markets for a second day. Investors are hoping for more insight later Thursday when Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer and William Dudley, president of the Fed’s New York regional bank, are scheduled to give speeches.
RETAIL ROCKET: Wal-Mart Stores jumped 8 percent after reporting surprisingly strong sales and releasing an optimistic outlook. The stock of the world’s largest retailer rose $5.72 to $68.86.
BUCKING THE TREND: Urban Outfitters jumped $2.75, or 12 percent, to $27.34 after reporting first-quarter sales that exceeded analyst forecasts. The solid results from Urban and Wal-Mart contrasts with dour reports from many other retailers in recent weeks.
MAKE A DEAL: Monsanto rose $4.42, or 4.5 percent, to $101.55 after German drug and chemicals company Bayer confirmed it has entered talks with the U.S.-based seed company.
EUROPE’S DAY: Germany’s DAX fell 1.3 percent while the CAC-40 in France fell 0.7 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 index was down 1.5 percent.
ASIA’S DAY: The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo ended flat, while South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.7 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX fell 0.6 percent. Benchmarks in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia also lost ground.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.24 to $46.92 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped $1.39 to $47.55 a barrel in London.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.84 percent from 1.86 percent. In currency trading, the dollar fell to 109.84 yen from 110 yen and the euro fell to $1.1205 from $1.1229.
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