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Tech, health care lead stocks lower

Tech, health care lead stocks lower

US stocks dropped sharply on Tuesday after Home Depot reported quarterly sales that fell short of Wall Street's expectations and interest rates breached new highs. The yield on three-month Treasury bills just jumped above that on the S&P 500 for the first time since the financial crisis 10 years ago.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 25 points, or 1 percent, to 2,704 as of 3:30 p.m.

Stocks struggled to a mixed finish on Monday as weakness in smaller-company stocks offset gains in large companies.

The Russell 2000 lost 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,600. The S&P 600 closed at 982.43 for a gain of 0.30 points or 0.03%.

On Tuesday, the bond market appeared to hold investors' focus.

Core April retail sales - which excludes gasoline, automobiles, building materials and food services - rose at a brisker 0.4 per cent monthly pace over March, as consumer spending is quickening its pace after a first-quarter slowdown.

UNHEALTHY TURN: Health care sector companies took some of the worst losses. Chip maker Nvidia fell 3.8 percent; drug maker Celgene slid 3.9 percent. Agilent Technologies slid 9.2 percent to $62.88.

The difference between the two benchmarks briefly widened to more than $8 a barrel, the widest gap since April 2015, reflecting surging USA crude supplies and a greater geopolitical risk to Brent-based crudes.

Brent crude oil settled at $78.43 a barrel, up 20 cents, or 0.3 per cent, after reaching an intraday peak of $79.47 a barrel, up $1.24 and its highest since November 2014. On Monday it rose 35 cents to settle at $71.31 a barrel. The euro weakened to $1.1847 from $1.1944.

METALS: Precious metals prices slumped as the dollar strengthened. The Nasdaq composite fell 75 points, or 1 percent, to 7,335. Silver dropped 38 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $16.27 an ounce.

In other energy futures trading, heating oil was little changed at $2.25 a gallon. NXP's share price rose by 11.9% and Qualcomm added 2.7% to its value.

Major indexes in Europe finished mixed Tuesday. Apple Inc. fell 0.9%. France's CAC 40 inched up 0.2 percent. In Japan, the Topix index was off 0.2%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 percent.

Traders said the President's soft tone is probably a strategy to get China's help in convincing North Korea to agree to a favorable deal when Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.

Home Depot dropped 1.4 percent on weaker-than-expected sales, partly because of inclement weather.

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