Wall Street tumbles on tobacco and tech, commodities soften after wild ride

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tobacco and tech stocks dragged down Wall Street on Thursday, while oil prices softened and other commodities walked back huge gains after a wild ride.

A bump in long-dated U.S. Treasury yields steepened the curve after two weeks of flattening, and supported a stronger dollar.

Robust corporate earnings had boosted shares this week, but a tepid forecast on smartphone demand sent stocks from Apple to chipmakers tumbling on Thursday.

Tobacco company Philip Morris plunged as much as 17.7 percent after announcing weak results and forecasts, dragging down the S&P 500 index and rival Altria.

Oil prices softened after having spiked to highs not seen since 2014. U.S. crude fell 0.48 percent to $68.14 per barrel and Brent was last at $73.61, up 0.18 percent on the day.

“I do think we could see $70 pretty quick, but I want to caution that maybe we’ll see the market level out a little bit in a few weeks,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at PRICE Futures Group in Chicago.

Commodities were buoyed by talk that Saudi Arabia had its sights set on $80 to $100 a barrel of oil. Nickel and aluminum also rose on fears over the impact of U.S. sanctions on Russian aluminum producers, including Rusan.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Nickel initially jumped by the most in 6-1/2 years and aluminum prices reached their highest since 2011.

But the metals later turned sharply negative, with analysts saying the gains were overdone.

The Thomson Reuters CoreCommodity total return index opened on Thursday near its highest since mid-2015, before giving back all its gains. [O/R]

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 83.18 points, or 0.34 percent, to 24,664.89, the S&P 500 lost 15.51 points, or 0.57 percent, to 2,693.13 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 57.18 points, or 0.78 percent, to 7,238.06.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.02 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.25 percent.

The bullish sentiment in markets comes amid wider optimism about economic growth. The global economy is expected to expand this year at its fastest pace since 2010, the latest Reuters polls of over 500 economists worldwide suggest, but trade protectionism could quickly slow it down. [ECILT/WRAP]

Investors were also relieved that no new U.S. demands on trade came out of a summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 13/32 in price to yield 2.9135 percent, nearly the highest since Feb. 21.

The 30-year bond last fell 34/32 in price to yield 3.1015 percent, from 3.046 percent late on Wednesday.

The dollar index rose 0.3 percent against a basket of major currencies as the higher yields and expectations of more Federal Reserve rate increases offset concerns about a trade war and a ballooning U.S. budget deficit.

Additional reporting by Maytaal Angel in London, Richard Leong, Sinéad Carew, Kate Duguid and David Gaffen in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish and Rosalba O’Brien