NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes were drifting lower Thursday as investors picked over a mixed batch of corporate earnings reports. Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences and other biotech companies extended their recent slump.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fel 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,860 as of 11:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,384 and the Nasdaq composite index lost 60 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,124.
ICAHN OUT: Ebay’s stock dropped on news that Carl Icahn is backing down from his campaign to shake up the company. The e-commerce company has been fighting a push from the activist investor to spin off PayPal, eBay’s mobile payment business. Ebay’s stock fell $1.15, or 2 percent, to $54.73.
COOL RECEPTION: Ally Financial’s stock slumped in its market debut. The former financing arm of General Motors raised $2.4 billion in an initial public offering Wednesday, allowing the federal government to recoup the money used to bail out the company during the 2008 financial crisis. Ally dropped 50 cents, or 2 percent, to $24.50, below its IPO price of $25.
BIOTECH: Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences and other biotechnology companies fell, extending their recent slump. Biotech stocks have become volatile in the recent weeks amid scrutiny over the cost of their drugs. The S&P’s index of biotechnology stocks dropped 3 percent.
RITE AID: Shares of Rite Aid surged after the retailer turned in quarterly results that topped analysts’ expectations. Rite Aid also announced the acquisition of RediClinic and said it plans to expand the Texas chain of health clinics. The company’s stock gained 72 cents, or 11 percent, to $7.12.
AND BEYOND: Weaker sales at Bed Bath & Beyond drove the company’s stock down $4.31, or 6 percent, to $63.59. The company reported a drop in quarterly revenue and profit late Wednesday. Like many other retailers, Bed Bath & Beyond laid some of the blame on cold winter weather for keeping customers at home.
JOBS: The Labor Department said that the number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to 300,000, the lowest level in nearly seven years. The less-volatile four-week average dropped, too. Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week than at any point since the Great Recession started in December 2007.
REACTION: “What today’s 300K unemployment claims number tells us is that current labor market conditions are normal,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at the Bank of Tokyo, wrote in a note to clients. “The outlook for the labor market is assured. The economy does not need additional stimulus.”
ASIA: Stock markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai climbed on plans to link the exchanges, which would expand access to Chinese companies for foreign investors. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.5 percent and the Shanghai Composite added 1.4 percent.
EUROPE: Germany’s DAX slipped 0.6 percent, and France’s CAC-40 fell 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.1 percent.
BONDS AND COMMODITIES: In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.63 percent from 2.69 percent late Wednesday. The price of crude oil fell 4 cents to $103.55 a barrel. Gold rose $15.10 to $1,321.00 an ounce.