Stocks fell Friday as health care and technology companies continued to report weak first-quarter results, but thanks to some late buying the companies managed to avoid major losses.
Stocks opened lower and fell further throughout the morning, extending a downturn from the day before. That followed a rout in European indexes. Late in the day, bond prices rose again, sending yields lower and pushing investors to buy utility and phone company stocks.
Dan Suzuki, senior U.S. equities strategist at Bank of America, said investors don’t like what they’re seeing in the results from technology companies.
“A lot of investors have been disappointed by results from tech this earnings season,” he said, so they are turning to bondlike stocks such as phone and utility companies, as well as small- and mid-cap stocks, which struggled in 2015.
“Everything that was working through last year has been an underperformer this year, and vice versa,” he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 57.12, or 0.32 percent, to 17,773.64. It was down as much as 178 earlier in the day.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 10.51, or 0.51 percent, to 2,065.30.
The Nasdaq composite index fell 29.93, or 0.62 percent, to 4,775.36. That was its seventh decline in a row.
Health care companies took the biggest losses after a bout of weak earnings reports. Biotech drugmaker Gilead Sciences said its results were hurt by big discounts and rebates on its costly hepatitis C medicines, and its stock lost $8.79, or 9.1 percent, to $88.21. Rival biotech giant Amgen reported relatively solid results but fell $2.26, or 1.4 percent, to $158.30.
Health insurer Molina Healthcare slashed its full-year guidance because of higher medical care costs in Ohio and Texas, expenses related to recent acquisitions, and pharmacy costs, especially in Puerto Rico. It plunged $12.46, or 19.4 percent, to $51.76.
Molecular diagnostics company Cepheid shed $6.86, or 19.4 percent, to $28.54 as analysts were disappointed with its revenue projections for the second quarter.
Tech stocks continued to slide. After its profit fell short of estimates, electronic storage company Seagate Technology lost $5.13, or 19.1 percent, to $21.77. Hard drive maker Western Digital dropped $5.19, or 11.3 percent, to $40.87. Apple, which is in a deep two-week slide, fell $1.09, or 1.1 percent, to $93.75. Like the Nasdaq, Apple has fallen seven days in a row.