Stocks Slip at the Start, Macy’s First-Quarter Profit Rises

U.S. stocks started mostly lower on Wednesday, as producer prices recorded their largest drop in three years in April. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately was down 16.99 points, or 0.11%, at 15,198.26. The S&P 500 index shed 2.04 points, or 0.12%, to 1,648.30. The Nasdaq Composite gained 2.13 points, or 0.06%, to 3,460.48.

Producer prices recorded their largest drop in three years in April as gasoline and food costs tumbled, pointing to weak
inflation pressures that should give the Federal Reserve latitude to keep monetary policy very accommodative. The Labor Department said on Wednesday its seasonally adjusted producer price index fell 0.7 percent last month, the biggest decline since February 2010. Wholesale prices had dropped 0.6 percent in March.

Macy’s Inc (M.N) reported higher first-quarter profit and sales on Wednesday. Comparable sales rose 3.8 percent, below the 4.3 percent jump analysts were expecting, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Overall sales were in line with projections, increasing 4 percent to $6.39 billion.

The recession across the economy of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro extended into its sixth quarter — longer than the calamitous slump that hit the region in the financial crisis of 2008-9.

HSBC (HSBA.L) said on Wednesday that it would target additional cost savings of $2 billion to $3 billion in 2014-2016, as Europe’s biggest bank cuts jobs and sells noncore businesses to bolster profitability under a restructuring plan led by CEO Stuart Gulliver.

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