By Marley Jay
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes are falling Wednesday as Macy’s leads a rout in retail stocks. The department store slashed its profit forecast after it reported a steep drop in earnings. Office supply companies Office Depot and Staples are tumbling after a judge blocked their plans to merge. Stocks are coming off their biggest gain in two months.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average sank 193 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,735 as of 3:27 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 17 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,067. The Nasdaq composite index lost 38 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,771.
THAT WASN’T EASY: Office Depot and Staples plunged after calling off their proposed merger. A federal judge ruled that competition for office supplies would be reduced if the largest office-supply chain combined with the second-largest, supporting the government’s effort to stop the $6.3 billion deal. Office Depot nosedived $2.38, or 39.2 percent, to $3.70 and reached its lowest price in three years. Staples skidded $1.89, or 18.2 percent, to $8.47.
Online rival Amazon, which is trading at all-time highs, rose $11.76, or 1.7 percent, to $714.83.
AN EXTRA LIFE: Video game maker Electronic Arts’ quarterly profit and sales were far stronger than expected, and it gave strong guidance for its current fiscal year. The stock made its biggest jump in two years, rising $8.65, or 13.4 percent, to $73.19.
DISASTER ON 34TH STREET: Department store Macy’s took its biggest loss in eight years and fell to a four-and-a-half-year low after it posted disappointing sales and said shoppers spent less on clothes and international tourists spent less. Macy’s also sharply reduced its annual profit forecast. The stock sank $5.44, or 14.7 percent, to $31.56. Retailers including Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren and Kohl’s also took big losses.
THE QUOTE: “Consumers aren’t spending the way they used to spend, especially on apparel, and they’re not spending as much at the mall,” said Kate Warne, investment strategist for Edward Jones.
Warne said investors are worried about retail stocks because of weak sales and the rising price of oil and gas, which could crimp consumer spending. At the same time, competition within retail is getting more intense as stores deal with more Internet-based competition and sell bigger ranges of products to keep shoppers from going elsewhere.
OIL: Already at its highest price in six months, benchmark U.S. crude rose again after the government reported a surprise decline of 3.4 million barrels in supplies for last week. Analysts were expecting an increase. U.S. oil production also fell, and is down 6 percent compared to a year ago.
U.S. oil rose $1.57, or 3.5 percent, to $46.23 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international benchmark, jumped $2.08, or 4.6 percent, to $47.60 a barrel in London.
Energy companies also traded higher. ConocoPhillips rose $1.03, or 2.4 percent, to $43.90 and Halliburton gained 84 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $39.68.
NOT A DISNEY ENDING: Disney posted weaker-than-expected earnings and sales. Its parks and consumer products divisions didn’t do as well as analysts hoped, and the company said it’s discontinuing its Disney Infinity video game line because the changing market is too risky. Its stock lost $4.50, or 4.2 percent, to $102.10.
WATCH OUT: Watch and accessories maker Fossil Group disclosed disappointing sales and said conditions have gotten worse. It cut its projections for the year, and its stock dropped $$11.62, or 29 percent, to $28.48.
STAMPEDE: Pet food maker Blue Buffalo Pet Products advanced after it reported strong quarterly results and boosted its sales forecast for the year. The stock added $1.87, or 7.8 percent, to $25.75.
GETTING FRIED: Fast food chain Wendy’s raised its annual projections after reporting strong first-quarter results, but cautioned that a key sales measurement won’t meet its expectations in the second quarter. The stock gave up 95 cents, or 8.5 percent, to $10.24.
OTHER ENERGY PRICES: Wholesale gasoline rose 10 cents, or 6.4 percent, to $1.58 a gallon. Heating oil increased 6 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $1.40 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.
METALS: The price of gold rose $10.70 to $1,275.50 an ounce. Silver gained 23 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $17.32 an ounce. Copper picked up 1 cent to $2.10 a pound.
OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX slid 0.7 percent and France’s CAC 40 was 0.5 percent lower. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.1 percent.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.74 percent from 1.76 percent. The dollar fell to 108.46 yen from 109.30 yen. The euro rose to $1.1429 from $1.1370.