US stock indexes move lower as investors play defence

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks moved broadly lower in early trading Thursday as investors pulled back to a defensive stance as an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump moves along and U.S. economic growth slows.Technology stocks were among the biggest losers in the early going. Cisco Systems fell 1.6% and IBM shed 1.2%. The sector has been volatile all week amid investor concerns about the U.S.-China trade war and upcoming negotiations in October.Facebook fell 1.7% and dragged communications stocks lower. The company could find itself the target of another antitrust investigation, this time by the Justice Department, according to Bloomberg.Energy companies also broadly fell as crude oil prices decline, while banks slipped along with falling bond yields.Consumer product makers and utilities were among the few sectors making broad gains in a sign that investors were shifting money into lower-risk holdings. Bond prices rose and pulled down the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 1.68% from 1.73% late Wednesday.The U.S. congressional inquiry into President Trump is throwing more volatility into an already sensitive market, particularly on trade issues. U.S. and Chinese representatives are expected to meet next month to negotiate a way out of the economically damaging feud.Chinese importers have set deals to buy American soybeans and pork as the governments make conciliatory gestures ahead of trade talks and Trump has suggested a trade deal could happen soon. But, investors remain cautious.Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy grew at a modest 2% in the second quarter, a sharply lower pace than the 3%-plus growth rates seen over the past year.Outside of trade and politics, investors are getting ready for the close of the third quarter and more corporate earnings reports.KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 0.2% as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 5 points to 26,967. The Nasdaq fell 0.4%.OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe and Asia moved broadly higher on a relatively quiet day for international economic news. Japan and the U.S. signed a deal covering agricultural, industrial and digital trade, but it kept auto tariffs unchanged.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued sparring with Parliament over the U.K.’s upcoming departure from the European Union. The nation is set to leave the trading bloc Oct. 31 and has yet to make a deal with European nations on trade and other issues.BUSTED RUDDER: Carnival slumped 7.7% after the cruise line operator cut its 2019 profit forecast because of a spike in fuel costs. Crude oil prices have risen more than 23% this year on mix of high supplies and tensions between the U.S. and Iran.FEEDING INVESTORS: Conagra Brands rose 1.6% after the food maker reported a surprisingly good first quarter profit. The company cited a solid sales increase in frozen foods and a benefit from last year’s purchase of Pinnacle Foods.Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press

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