US Stock Indexes Step Back While Overseas Markets Rally

(AP) — U.S. stock indexes took a small step back on Thursday, while bond yields recovered some of their sharp losses from the prior day. Stock markets around the world rallied.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,380 as of 11:26 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,911. The Nasdaq composite slipped 3, or 0.1 percent, to 5,897. Small-company stocks ticked higher. Slightly more stocks rose on the New York Stock Exchange than fell.

EUROPEAN OPTIMISM: Stock markets across the Atlantic rose, with the French CAC 40 up 0.6 percent and Germany’s DAX up 0.5 percent. The U.K. FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent. Investors had been nervous about Wednesday’s Dutch election, where politicians had railed against the European Union and immigration. After last summer’s U.K. vote to exit the European Union, investors wondered whether the Dutch election and others scheduled later in the year on the continent could lead the European Union to break apart.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party won a parliamentary election victory over anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders. Wilders campaigned on pledges to close borders to migrants from Muslim nations, close mosques, ban the Quran and take the Netherlands out of the EU.

BOND YIELDS: U.S. Treasury yields recovered some of their losses from the prior day. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.52 percent from 2.50 percent late Wednesday. It had plunged by 0.11 percentage points the prior day after the Federal Reserve dashed speculation that it may become more aggressive in raising rates.

The central bank increased short-term rates by a quarter of a percentage point, as was widely expected, but also said that it continues to expect to raise rates a total of three times this year. Some investors had begun to speculate that four increases may be possible given how much the economy and inflation have picked up. The Fed is hoping to gradually raise interest rates off their record lows, where they stayed for seven years following the 2008 financial crisis.

The two-year Treasury yield rose to 1.31 from 1.30 percent, and the 30-year yield rose to 3.13 percent from 3.11 percent.

Specialist Anthony Rinaldi works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Stocks around the world pulled back Tuesday as investors wait to hear from the Federal Reserve, which is beginning a two-day policy meeting on interest rates. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

SOME CENTRAL BANKS FOLLOW THE FED: China’s central bank raised a short-term interest rate on lending to banks but left its benchmark rate unchanged following the U.S. increase. The People’s Bank of China hiked the rate for its six-month and one-year medium-term lending facility and open-market repurchase operations by 0.1 percent. The benchmark one-year commercial lending rate was unchanged. The bank cited the Fed’s rate hike and improved Chinese economic conditions.

OTHERS STAND PAT: Japan’s central bank left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at and said it would work toward a 2 percent inflation rate target. The Bank of England held its interest rates at record lows.

EARNINGS POP: Tech giant Oracle rose to the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after reporting stronger revenue and earnings for its latest quarter than analysts expected. Oracle rose $3.08, or 7.1 percent, to $46.12.

GO HIGHER: GoPro, which makes wearable cameras, surged after it announced a cost-cutting plan and said it’s sticking by its forecast for 2017 profits. Its stock rose $1.20, or 16.3 percent, to $8.55.

HOME ADVANTAGE: Homebuilders rose as encouraging data for the industry continues to pile up. U.S. builders broke ground on new homes at a faster pace in February, and the pace was faster than economists expected. PulteGroup rose 34 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $23.77, and D.R. Horton rose 39 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $33.67.

ASIA’S DAY: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 2.1 percent, and Seoul’s Kospi rose 0.8 percent. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 5,785.80.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 16 cents to $48.70 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 6 cents to $51.75. Gold rose $27.90, or 2.3 percent, to $1,228.60 per ounce, silver rose 46 cents to $17.39 per ounce and copper rose 2 cents to $2.67 per pound.

ENERGY PAIN: The drop in oil prices resumes a slide that’s been ongoing since late last month. A barrel of oil was worth nearly $55 in late February. If it closes lower Thursday, it would be the eighth decline in the last nine days.

The weakness has dragged down stocks of oil drillers and others across the industry. Energy stocks in the S&P 500 lost 0.9 percent, one of the biggest losses among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 113.08 Japanese yen from 113.39 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.0733 from $1.0713, and the British pound rose to $1.2352 from $1.2301.