US stock indexes edge lower as investors weigh economic data

U.S. stocks edged lower in early trading Friday, as investors weighed new data showing retail sales and producer prices come in softer than expected in July. Health care companies and banks were among the biggest decliners, while utilities led the gainers. The market was coming off all-time highs set by the three major stock indexes a day earlier.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,599 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped one point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,184. The Nasdaq composite index lost six points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,222.

ECONOMIC DATA: The Commerce Department said that U.S. retail sales held steady in July from the previous month, as Americans spent less at grocery stores, clothing shops, sporting goods and electronics and appliance outlets. Those declines were offset by big increases in auto sales and on online and catalog sales. Separately, the Labor Department said producer prices posted the biggest drop last month since September, pulled down by tumbling energy, clothing and food prices. Inflation remains modest at both producer and consumer levels.

SALES SLUMPS: Dillard’s slid 3.7 percent after the retailer reported weaker sales at stores open at least one year. The stock fell $2.44 to $68.85. Weak sales also weighed on Ruby Tuesday’s shares. The restaurant operator, which said it plans to shutter 95 of its company-owned locations by September, slumped 43 cents, or 11.5 percent, to $3.30.

HAPPY RETAILERS: Nordtsrom surged 8.2 percent a day after the department store chain reported earnings that beat Wall Street’s expectations. The company also raised its profit guidance for the year. The stock gained $3.92 to $51.48. On Friday, J.C. Penney said a pickup in sales helped trim the chain’s second-quarter loss from a year earlier. The stock added 12 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $10.06.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: The DAX index in Germany was down 0.3 percent and France’s CAC 40 was down 0.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE was down 0.1 percent. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite index added 1.6 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent after China reported retail sales and factory output increased sharply in July from a year earlier, even as they declined from June 2016’s levels. Elsewhere in the region, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index rose 1.1 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent. India’s Sensex gained 1 percent. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

OIL PRICES: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 45 cents, or 1 percent, at $43.94 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 40 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $46.44 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.49 percent from 1.56 late Thursday. In currency markets, the dollar strengthened to 100.99 yen from 101.93 on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1203 from $1.1141.

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