Stocks are drifting mostly lower in afternoon trading after an early gain faded away. Utilities and real estate companies are down the most as bond yields rise sharply. Bank stocks bucked the market and moved higher. Gold is dropping.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 31 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,223 as of 12:44 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,157. The Nasdaq composite was up 3 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 5,300.
ROLE REVERSAL: Steady dividend payers like phone and real estate companies and utilities have fallen out of favor as investors anticipate higher rates and the yields on bonds rise. Utilities have fallen 7 percent since Sept. 23, after soaring 21 percent in the first six months of the year.
PIG OUT: Darden Restaurants rose 62 cents, or 1 percent, to $62.98 after posting strong first-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations. The owner of Olive Garden and other restaurant chains also raised its annual projections and said it would buy back more of its stock.
SLOW GROWTH: The International Monetary Fund cut its estimate for U.S. economic growth in 2016 to 1.6 percent from the 2.2 percent it had predicted in July. A slower growing economy could mean the Federal Reserve will move more gradually to increase interest rates, a boon to stocks. Investors are looking ahead to a report on job creation coming out Friday to gauge how soon the Fed will act.
THE QUOTE: Bill Strazzullo, chief market strategist at Bell Curve Trading, said investors are hoping for a continued "goldilocks" situation that has helped fuel gains for much of the bull market. "The best thing for the market right now is for the economy to be strong enough to dispel the fear of recession," he said, "but not too strong that it accelerate the Fed tightening process."
BRITAIN JUMPS: Britain's FTSE 100 jumped 1.3 percent, just shy of its all-time high of 7,122, as the pound continues to sink after the country's prime minister gave a clear timetable on Sunday for exiting the European Union. The pound is now at a 31-year low of $1.2750. A weaker pound makes the products and services of FTSE-listed multinationals cheaper abroad, boosting earnings.
ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE: Germany's DAX was 1 percent higher while the CAC-40 in France rose 1.1 percent.
BANK BOOMERANG: The U.S.-listed shares of Deutsche Bank rose 17 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $11.75. Germany's biggest bank has been under pressure since it revealed the U.S. Justice Department had proposed at $14 billion payment to settle an investigation into the bank's dealings in risky mortgage bonds. Its shares have been rising recently on a news report Friday that a lower fine was in the offing.
ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to close as the weaker yen boosted shares of the country's big exporters. South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.4 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 18 cents to $48.99 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 26 cents to $51.15 a barrel in London.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.67 percent. The euro slipped to $1.1195 from $1.1215 and the dollar rose to 102.92 yen from 101.57 yen.
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