Business

Stocks slip as investors seek safety after weak retail sales data

US stocks dipped Wednesday as investors worried about weak retail sales and oil prices sank. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time in six months.

The Commerce Department said retail spending decreased in May, which surprised the experts. Investors reacted by buying traditionally safe assets like government bonds and high-dividend companies’ stocks while selling stocks from other industries that depend more on economic growth. Bond yields hit their lowest level of 2017. Oil prices also hit an annual low after the government’s weekly report on oil stockpiles.

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In the last few weeks Wall Street has been disappointed by several economic reports. That did not appear to change the Fed’s thinking, even though higher interest rates tend to slow economic growth. For years, investors have been hoping growth would hit a faster pace.

‘‘This economy has always been something of a healthy tortoise,’’ said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. ‘‘I think growth will pick up a bit, but there is sort of a failure to bounce in this economy.’’

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.1 percent, to 2,437.92.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent, to a record 21,374.56. Home Depot and Goldman Sachs contributed most of the blue-chip index’s gain.

After a late tumble in technology stocks, the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.4 percent, to 6,194.89.

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Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index declined 0.6 percent, to 1,417.57. That suggests investors are worried about the economy, which could have an outsized effect on smaller, domestically focused companies.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time since December, something investors widely expected. Fed leaders suggested they expect to raise rates again later in the year.

The Commerce Department said people spent less money at gas stations, department stores, and electronics retailers last month. GameStop gave up 1.6 percent, and Kohl’s dropped 1 percent.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said consumer prices slipped, partly because of lower energy prices. That’s one reason there has been little inflation in the economy lately, a continued concern for Federal Reserve policy makers.

Bond prices jumped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.13 percent from 2.21 percent. Earlier, the 10-year note hit its lowest level since November.

Among big dividend payers, General Mills rose 1 percent. American Water Works rose 1.4 percent.

Oil futures plunged after the government said oil supplies shrank only slightly last week while gasoline stockpiles grew. Benchmark US crude fell 3.7 percent to $44.73 a barrel.

Exxon Mobil lost 1.1 percent, and Anadarko Petroleum sank 3.9 percent.

Biotech drug maker Biogen fell and competitor Alexion Pharmaceuticals rose after the companies said Biogen’s chief financial officer, Paul Clancy, will become Alexion’s CFO. Biogen gave up 3.1 percent, and Alexion jumped 9.3 percent.

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