In this March 13, 2012 photo, trader John Bishop works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Markets were buoyant Wednesday, March 14, 2012, a day after a fairly rosy assessment of the U.S. economy from the Federal Reserve boosted confidence about the state of the world’s largest economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Stocks slipped on Wall Street Wednesday, a day after the market had its biggest gain of the year. Citigroup fell after failing to convince regulators it was healthy enough to raise its dividend.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down four points at 13,173 at 2:15 p.m. Eastern, giving up an earlier gain of 44 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off five points at 1,391, and the Nasdaq composite was down 10 at 3,029.
Only one of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 rose, technology. Falling [auth] stocks outnumbered rising ones more than 2-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange.
On Tuesday, a powerful rally in bank stocks pushed the Dow to its highest close since the last day of 2007. The Federal Reserve said 15 of the 19 major banks it surveyed passed a so-called stress test to see how they would stand up in a financial crisis worse than what happened in 2008.
Citigroup, among the four that weren’t deemed strong enough to raise their dividends or make other distributions to shareholders, fell 4 percent in morning trading. Other banks that passed the Fed’s test mostly rose. Regions Financial rose 6.6 percent after the bank said it would sell $900 million in stock to repay some of the money it received as part of the 2008 bank bailout. Bank of America rose 2.6 percent and Zions Bancorporation rose 7.3 percent, the most of any stock in the S&P 500 index.
MetLife, an insurance company, also failed to pass the Fed’s stress test. The stock slid 5 percent in early trading, the most in the S&P 500.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose sharply, to 2.27 percent from 2.11 percent late Wednesday. The benchmark yield has risen for five days straight and is at the highest level since October. That’s a sign that investors believe the economy is improving and that they’re more willing to hold higher-risk assets like stocks and commodities.
Gold fell $51 to $1,643 an ounce. The dollar rose against the euro and the yen and European markets were mostly higher. Germany’s DAX rose 1.2 percent. France’s benchmark index rose 0.4 percent and Spain’s edged up 0.2 percent.
The Fed was planning to wait until Thursday to release the results of its stress tests, which determine which financial companies are healthy enough to raise their dividends. After JPMorgan Chase surprised the market with an announcement Tuesday that it would raise its dividend and buy back stock, the Fed released the results early.
Apple rose for a sixth straight day, gaining $18, or 3 percent, to $585. The stock started the year at $405. The company announced the latest version of its blockbuster tablet computer, the iPad, last week.
Southwest Airlines fell 3 percent a day after the low-cost carrier said it didn’t expect to earn a profit in the first quarter because of higher fuel costs. The airline also said ticket bookings for spring travel weakened in late February.
Cliffs Natural Resources jumped 7 percent. The Cleveland-based mining company said late Tuesday it was bumping its dividend to 62.6 cents, from 28 cents.