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Stocks Decline as Investors Parse Earnings Reports, Tax Plan

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11/02/2017 | 03:43pm CET
By Christopher Whittall and Kenan Machado 

U.S. stocks fell Thursday as investors analyzed a batch of mixed earnings reports and House Republicans' latest tax proposal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 83 points, or 0.4%, to 23352 soon after the opening bell. The S&P 500 was down 0.5% and the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.5%.

Another round of profit reports contributed to stocks' biggest swings Thursday. Attention also has turned to the tax proposal, which aims to permanently chop the corporate tax rate, compress the number of individual income tax brackets and eventually repeal the taxes paid by large estates, according to a detailed summary of the plan reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Newell Brands, the maker of Sharpie markers and Rubbermaid containers, slumped 23% after the company cut its earnings guidance for the year following a weak back-to-school season.

Kraft Heinz reported its first sales increase since its namesake companies combined two years earlier. However, it missed analysts' expectations. Shares fell about 2%.

Facebook, which remains under scrutiny over alleged Russian propagandists' activity during the election, was down 2.4% after reporting a jump in profit.

Apple is due to release results after the market closes Thursday and was down 0.5% in recent trading.

The British pound and U.K. government bond yields fell sharply after the Bank of England's rate-setting committee voted by a margin of seven to two to raise interest rates, but signaled further increases aren't imminent. The pound fell 1% against the dollar to $1.3107 recently.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was down 0.8%. Shares in Credit Suisse rose 5% after the Swiss banking giant reported a jump in third-quarter net profit on strong growth in wealth management. Shares in Royal Dutch Shell gained 1.3% after the energy company said its third-quarter profit more than doubled from a year earlier.

Moves in currencies and bond markets were muted after The Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Federal Reserve governor Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the central bank. Mr. Powell is an ally of Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen who is widely expected to continue the central bank's gradual approach to tightening monetary policy.

Separately, the Fed kept policy on hold on Wednesday as expected and signaled it remains on course to raise interest raise rates once more this year.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 2.338%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.378% on Wednesday.

Mr. Powell is "a continuity candidate," said Nick Gartside, international chief investment officer for global fixed income at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Like Ms. Yellen, he thinks Mr. Powell will be a "realist" when it comes to raising interest rates and react to economic data.

"The data is strong. That's the impetus for a December rate hike and three next year," said Mr. Gartside.

In the Asia-Pacific region, China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4%, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.1%. Japan was the region's notable outperformer, with a rally in the last hour of trading sending the Nikkei Stock Average up 0.5% to another 21-year high.

--Michael Wursthorn contributed to this article.

Write to Christopher Whittall at [email protected] and Kenan Machado at [email protected]

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Spread / Average Target 17%
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