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Tech, retail companies take stocks lower

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. stocks fell Thursday as technology firms and small companies skidded. Investors bought high-dividend stocks, which pulled the market away from steeper losses. 

Stocks dropped in early trading as investors reacted to rising interest rates in the U.S. while the Bank of England came unexpectedly close to raising U.K. interest rates for the first time in 10 years. Smaller, more domestically-oriented companies fell as investors wondered if the expanding special counsel investigation in Washington will affect President Donald Trump's proposed agenda of cuts in taxes and regulations.

"Investors are getting a bit antsy waiting for these pro-growth policies," said Karyn Cavanaugh of Voya Investment Strategies.

Elsewhere, technology companies continued their recent slump, while shoe retailer Nike and toy maker Mattel both fell. But industrial companies rose on new signs U.S. manufacturing has steadied, and utilities and real estate companies did well.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 5.46 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,432.46. It fell as much as 19 points in the morning. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 14.66 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,359.90 after it closed at a record high Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite dropped 29.39 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,165.50. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 7.49 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,410.08.

Technology companies, which have done far better than the rest of the market this year, continued to slide. Apple gave up 87 cents to $144.29 and Alphabet, Google's parent company, sank $7.75 to $960.18. Symantec shed 68 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $28.41. The stocks have been slipping since Friday and the Nasdaq is on track for its second consecutive weekly loss.

Nike declined $1.76, or 3.2 percent, to $52.90 after the company said it will eliminate 1,400 jobs, or about 2 percent of its staff positions, and reduce the number of sneaker styles it sells by about a quarter. Amazon dipped $12.30, or 1.3 percent, to $964.17.

Grocery chain Kroger took its biggest one-day loss since 1999. The company cut its annual profit outlook as it deals with growing competition from discount chain Aldi and from Lidl, a German chain opening its first locations in the U.S. Kroger's stock plunged $5.72, or 18.9 percent, to $24.56. Competitor Supervalu fell 30 cents, or 7.4 percent, to $3.76.

Trump has touted an agenda aimed at getting the economy to grow faster. That could help smaller companies because they are more domestically focused and thus more dependent on economic growth. Those stocks made dramatic gains after Trump was elected. 

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