Stocks give up an early gain and turn lower

STEVE ROTHWELL AP Markets Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks gave up an early gain and turned lower in early afternoon trading. Facebook slumped, leading technology stocks lower after announcing its acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,863 as of 3 p.m. It had been up as much as 10 points earlier. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 19 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,347. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite fell more than the other indexes, giving up 25 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,208.

CANDY CRUSHED: King Digital Entertainment, the maker of the popular "Candy Crush Saga" game, slumped on its first day of trading. The company raised $499.5 million in an initial public offering. The stock fell $2.93, or 13 percent, to $19.57 by midday trading.

VIRTUAL REALITY: Facebook fell $3.54, or 6 percent, to $61.03 after agreeing to pay $2 billion for virtual reality company Oculus. It's Facebook's second big acquisition in as many months. Last month the social network announced that it would pay $19 billion for messaging startup WhatsApp.

Investors may be questioning whether the returns on those investments will justify the big outlays, said Lawrence Creatura, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors.

SLOW GRIND: The stock market is still going through a phase of consolidation after big gains in 2013, and the second half of this year will likely be stronger than the first, said David Lafferty, chief market strategist at Natixis Global Asset Management.

Still, investors should expect lower returns this year. The S&P 500 is up 0.6 percent so far, after surging almost 30 percent last year. "Equity markets will be fine this year, but expectations have to come down a lot," Lafferty said.

MANUFACTURING: Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in February by the largest amount since November, 2.2 percent. Demand for airplanes and automobiles drove the gains. Last month's rise in durable goods orders followed a 1.3 percent drop in January.

HEALTHY RETURNS: Health care companies bucked the downward trend and were one of three industry sectors to rise. The sector is rebounding after getting caught up in a brief sell-off of biotechnology stocks on Friday and Monday. Tenet Healthcare rose $2.69, or 6.9 percent, to $41.57. Quest Diagnostic rose $3.12, or 5.7 percent, to $58.06.

FIVE BELOW: Discount retailer Five Below shot higher after its quarterly profit and sales beat analysts' expectations. The stock jumped $4.80, or 12.6 percent, to $42.80 before the start of regular trading.

GAMBLING PROBLEMS: International Game Technology fell $1.04 cents, or 7 percent, to $13.81 after the company lowered its annual profit forecast, saying North American gambling revenue has declined more steeply than it expected. Its international business is being hurt by weakening currencies and other problems.

TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 2.70 percent from 2.75 percent from late Tuesday. The price of crude oil rose $1.07, or 1.1 percent, to $100.26 a barrel. Gold fell $8, or 0.6 percent, to settle at $1,303.40 an ounce.

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