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US stocks drop on weak retail sales report

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on February 10, 2014 in New York City
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on February 10, 2014 in New York City

US stocks Thursday moved lower in early trade as a disappointing retail sales report overshadowed news of cable operator Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

About 35 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 55.45 (0.35 percent) to 15,908.49.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 4.52 (0.25 percent) to 1,814.74, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 3.21 (0.08 percent) to 4,198.08.

US retail sales fell 0.4 percent in January in the second straight monthly decline. The Commerce Department said retail sales also fell 0.1 percent in December after previously estimating growth of 0.2 percent.

Comcast unveiled a proposed acquisition of Time Warner worth about $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal that would combine the top two US cable TV companies.

Comcast shares fell 3.3 percent in early trade, while Time Warner jumped 6.8 percent.

The deal is also a setback for Charter Communications, which had sought to acquire Time Warner. Charter shares fell 6.8 percent.

General Motors fell 2.0 percent after announcing a recall of nearly 780,000 sedans sold in North America for an ignition switch problem that could shut off a moving car's electrical devices, including airbags.

Technology giant Cisco fell 4.3 percent due to a weak earnings report that showed a 54.5 percent decline in profits to $1.4 billion. Chief executive John Chambers cited disappointing sales in emerging markets as a major drag on results.

Broadcast group CBS unveiled plans to accelerate share buybacks, saying it will buy $2 billion in shares in the first quarter of 2014, an amount nearly equal to the total buybacks in 2013. Quarterly earnings also rose 19.6 percent to $470 million. CBS shares rose 3.7 percent.

Pepsico reported a 4.9 percent rise in profits with earnings per share of $1.12 besting expectations by two cents. Revenues of $20.12 billion slightly lagged forecasts. Pepsi shares fell 2.9 percent.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury slipped to 2.74 percent from 2.76 percent, while the 30-year fell to 3.68 percent from 3.72 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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