GE, energy shares drag Wall St lower; bond proxies rise
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- U.S. stock indexes fell on Tuesday as General Electric shares plunged for a second straight day and a drop in crude oil prices hit energy stocks.
GE fell 5.9 percent to $17.90 in the largest daily volume in two years as investors wondered if a massive overhaul of the company by new Chief Executive John Flannery will be enough to revive the industrial conglomerate.
The stock touched $17.46, its lowest in nearly six years.
Energy was the largest decliner among the 11 S&P 500 sectors as oil prices fell the most in a month. The International Energy Agency forecast rising U.S. crude output and had a gloomy outlook for global demand growth.
Exxon fell 0.8 percent and ConocoPhillips was down 2.5 percent, while the S&P 500 energy sector fell 1.5 percent, the most in more than four months.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 30.23 points, or 0.13 percent, to end at 23,409.47, the S&P 500 lost 5.97 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,578.87 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 19.72 points, or 0.29 percent, to 6,737.87.
Stocks favored by investors seeking yield, the so-called bond proxies, were the best performers as the yield curve, or the gap between short- and long-term U.S. government bond yields, remained near its flattest in a decade.
Utilities and consumer staples, sectors that pay relatively high dividends, were the best performers on the day. Utilities rose 1.2 percent for a 2.4 percent gain since Friday's close, the largest two-day percentage gain since late February.
"People are looking for yield across the globe so potentially there's foreign flows going into bond proxies," said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer, Multi-Asset Strategies and Solutions at Voya Investment Management in New York.
He said the outperformance of stocks in the utilities and consumer staples sectors could also be due to investors getting more defensive "after growth sectors and the overall market have been doing so well this year."
The S&P 500 fell for the third session in the last four, but it remains within 1 percent of a record closing high hit last week.
TV streaming device maker Roku snapped a three-day winning streak after hitting a record high of $48.80, ending down 13.5 percent at $36.95.
Advance Auto Parts soared 16.3 percent to $95.72 after it affirmed its full-year profit forecast and beat quarterly profit estimates.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.47-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.23-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 45 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 64 new highs and 87 new lows.
About 6.73 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, roughly in line with the daily average over the last 20 sessions.