WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014...
U.S. stocks declined on Tuesday, pulling the Dow under 17,000, as geopolitical worries neutralized upbeat earnings from corporations including Merck & Co.. "Investors are clearly hyper-sensitive right now to things happening in Europe and Russia, and whether it's worsening or not," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG.
In a statement televised live Tuesday afternoon, President Barack Obama said the United States was expanding on measures announced two weeks, targeting Russian energy, defense and financial sectors as Russia has continued to support separatists in the Ukraine, and was still building up forces on its own border with Ukraine. Obama's statement followed European Union governments that announced sanctions earlier in the day to reduce Russia's ability to tap into bank financing and advanced technology.
Windstream Holdings led a surge in phone shares on its plan to spin off some telecommunications network assets into a publicly-traded real estate investment trust; Frontier Communications and CenturyLink jumped; as did Dow components AT&T and Verizon Communications.
"We're continuing to go up on the back of earnings; we had some good reports this morning," said Jim Dunigan, managing executive, investments, at PNC Wealth Management.
Merck gained after the drug manufacturer reported better-than-expected quarterly results, with Pfizer also rising after postingearnings that beat estimates.
United Parcel Service, however, disappointed with the shipper's quarterly profit more than halved.
After a nearly 74-point climb that lifted it above 17,000, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 declined 0.4 percent, with industrials hardest hit and telecommunications pacing sector gains among its 10 major industry groups. The Nasdaq held steady. For every seven shares rising, more than eight fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 395 million shares traded as of 3:25 p.m. Eastern. Composite volume approached 2.4 billion.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the cost of crude fell 70 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $100.97 a barrel, while gold futures dropped five bucks, or 0.4 percent, to to $1,298.30 an ounce. The dollar held steady against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners; the yield on the 10-year Treasury yield fell 3 basis points to 2.459 percent.