Shares of financial companies sagged under the pressure of falling bond yields and the threat of Hurricane Irma, weighing on major stock indexes.
Concerns around the storm's potential impact on Florida and other Southern states deepened losses for shares of insurers, some of which were already grappling with fallout from Hurricane Harvey, money managers said. Another slide in Treasury yields, which doesn't bode well for lenders' profits, added to declines in the financials sector.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.86 points, or 0.1%, to 21784.78 on Thursday. The S&P 500 declined 0.44 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2465.10, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 4.55 points, or less than 0.1%, to 6397.87.
Financial stocks in the S&P 500 slid 1.7%, with insurance companies among the biggest laggards. Everest Re Group fell $15.44, or 6.8%, to $211.94, and XL Group was off 1.97, or 5.1%, to 36.48.
Orange-juice futures rose as traders weighed the impact the hurricane could have on groves in Florida.
Frozen concentrated orange juice for November delivery rose 3.9% to end at $1.4635 a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange, continuing a week of volatile trade related to forecasts of the path of the storm.
"There's a focus now on what Irma is going to do to Florida," said Paul Karrlsson-Willis, head of global equity sales and trading at Cabrera Capital. "You got an issue around oranges, and insurance is going to be looked at more closely. They're going to get hit."
Hurricane Harvey is projected to disrupt measures of the U.S. economy in the weeks and months ahead. Jobless claims surged in a report on Thursday, while forecasters in The Wall Street Journal's survey of economists expect the growth rate of gross domestic product to fall by about 0.3 percentage points in the third quarter.
Some money managers expect Irma to further hurt some economic indicators in the near term, which could dampen expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year.
"That will probably change how the Fed approaches its December meeting," said Tom Wright, director of equities at JMP Securities.
U.S. government-bond prices strengthened, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.061% from 2.108% on Wednesday.
Declines in shares of Walt Disney and Apple weighed on the Dow industrials.
Walt Disney fell 4.44, or 4.4%, to 97.06 after Chief Executive Bob Iger revealed more details about the company's subscription video service and said its 2017 earnings would be roughly in line with last year's, putting them below analyst forecasts.
Apple declined 65 cents, or 0.4%, to 161.26 following The Wall Street Journal's report that production glitches early in the manufacturing of the company's new iPhone could result in extended supply shortfalls and shipping delays later this month.
Elsewhere, Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.3% after the European Central Bank said it would leave monetary policy unchanged while reaffirming the resilience of the eurozone economy.
The euro rose 0.9% to $1.2028 following the ECB's announcement, further compounding the central bank's dilemma of a rapidly appreciating currency. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of 16 other currencies, fell 0.7%.
--Christopher Whittall and Julie Wernau contributed to this article.
Write to Michael Wursthorn at Michael.Wursthorn@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 07, 2017 17:07 ET (21:07 GMT)
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