U.S. stocks were on track to extend losses into a second day on Wednesday as railroad operator CSX had its biggest drop in 11 years and pulled other industrial companies lower.
Banks also fell as investors worried that lower interest rates will hurt their profits going forward. Investors expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates for the first time in a decade at a meeting late next week.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.06% from 2.12% late Tuesday as investors headed for less risky holdings. Utilities, which are also considered a safer bet, made late gains and held up well.
Abbott Laboratories gained 3.5% and pushed health care stocks higher after the maker of infant formula and drugs raised its forecast for the year. UnitedHealth Group also rose.
Some big technology stocks bucked the downward trend and put up some solid gains. Intel and Adobe rose.
Corporate earnings reports are getting into full swing this week, and investors have been mostly cautious in their assessments of them. Earnings are still expected to decline for S&P 500 companies in the second quarter.
CSX plunged 9.9% after saying it now expects its revenue to decline as much as 2% this year, after previously saying it expected growth. Investors read that as trouble for the entire industry and sent the stock of other railroad operators lower. Union Pacific sank 5.9% and Norfolk Southern dropped 7.1%.
Several large companies are scheduled to report earnings later Wednesday and throughout the remainder of the week. Netflix will release its results after the market closes, as will IBM. UnitedHealth Group, Phillip Morris and Morgan Stanley are scheduled to release their results Thursday.
The S&P 500 index fell 0.5% as of 3:40 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 84 points, or 0.3%, to 27,251. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.2%. Small-company stocks did worse than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index fell 0.6%.
Corporate profits have so far been beating Wall Street forecasts. But investors are keeping a close watch on the picture that companies paint for the second half of the year.
“You’re getting tempered guidance for the most part,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist with CFRA Research. “It’s more of a reality check. Second-half growth is not guaranteed at this point.”
Investors are likely going to pause and take a more cautious approach going forward, she said, as stock values reach record highs. The technology-heavy Nasdaq is up more than 23% for the year and the broad S&P 500 is up more than 19%.
A weak home construction report loomed over companies that build homes. Hovnanian fell 2.8%, Lennar shed 1.6% and Toll Brothers fell 1.5%.
U.S. home construction slipped last month as an uptick in the building of single-family homes was offset by a big drop in apartment construction. The figure fell short of economists’ forecasts.
Nu Skin Enterprises fell 14.5% after the seller of skin care and nutritional products slashed its profit and revenue forecast for the year. The company and other direct sellers of wellness products are facing increased scrutiny from the Chinese government and that is hampering sales growth. Nu Skin gets 33% of its revenue from China, according to FactSet.
Cintas rose 9.3% after the uniform rental company beat analysts’ profit and revenue forecasts for its fiscal fourth quarter. The company also gave investors a solid profit forecast for its current fiscal year.
Benchmark crude oil fell 84 cents to settle at $56.78 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 69 cents to close at $63.66 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.88 per gallon. Heating oil declined 1 cent to $1.89 per gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent to $2.30 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold rose $12.10 to $1,421.30 per ounce, silver rose 29 cents to $15.89 per ounce and copper rose 2 cents to $2.71 per pound.
The dollar fell to 108.10 Japanese yen from 108.34 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1223 from $1.1206.