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US stocks drop as investors assess corporate earnings
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NEW YORK (AP) — A sell-off in stocks worsened in Thursday afternoon trading as investors assessed the latest corporate earnings. Harman International, which makes audio systems for cars, and Yelp, an online listings company, fell sharply after posting weak earnings.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 24 points, or 1.2 percent, 2,082 as of 3:16 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 215 points, or 1.2 percent, to 17,817 points. The Nasdaq composite declined 86 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,936.

EARNINGS FLOPS: Harman International reported earnings that fell short of analysts' estimates and lowered its own forecast for revenue and earnings. The company blamed the impact of the appreciating dollar and weaker growth. Its stock fell $10.60, or 7.5 percent, to $129.65.

Yelp plunged $12.47, or 24 percent, to $38.91 after it reported a loss of $1.3 million in its first quarter and gave a lower-than-expected revenue outlook late Wednesday. Yelp said the number of visitors to its desktop site fell as more users browsed on smartphones and tablets.

FALLING UTILITIES: The utility sector of the S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent, the biggest drop of the 10 industry groups in the index after a big jump in bond yields on Wednesday.

When bond yields fell earlier this year, investors seeking income bought dividend-rich utility stocks. Now that yields are edging higher, demand for dividend stocks is falling as investors move back to bonds.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell as low as 1.65 percent in January amid concern that growth in the global economy was slowing. On Thursday the yield held at 2.04 percent after starting the week at 1.92 percent.

THE QUOTE: Corporate earnings growth has slowed dramatically in the first quarter as the strengthening dollar cuts the value of overseas sales and the plunge in oil prices hits energy companies. Companies in the S&P 500 are currently forecast to report average growth in earnings per share of just 0.2 percent for the first quarter, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. While oil prices have rebounded from their lows in January and the dollar has weakened against the euro and other currencies in the past month, companies and the economy are still adjusting to the big shift in prices, said Gina Martin Adams, an equity strategist at Wells Fargo Securities. "As we go forward, things are going to look a lot better," said Adams.

EUROPE: Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent and France's CAC 40 gained 0.1 percent. Germany's DAX climbed 0.2 percent.

JAPAN, EUROPE DATA: Japan reported that its industrial output slipped 1.2 percent in March from the year before, not as bad as expected. As a result, the central bank kept its ultra-loose monetary policy intact despite expectations for stimulus. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda remains upbeat about the prospects for a moderate recovery, despite halting progress toward his 2 percent inflation goal.

In Europe, inflation in the 19 countries that use the euro edged up from minus 0.1 percent to zero in April, ending a four-month spell of falling prices. That's an encouraging sign that the risk of a long-term drop in prices, a damaging phenomenon called deflation, is easing.

MORE EARNINGS: European corporate earnings reports were mixed, with good figures from Shell and Airbus but a disappointing performance from Nokia. The Finnish technology company's shares plummeted 9 percent after it said the profitability at its main networks division was not as good as hoped.

METALS: Gold dropped $27.60, or 3.3 percent, to $1,182.40 an ounce. Silver fell 54.6 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $16.12 an ounce. The price of copper rose 9.2 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $2.89 per pound.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.1240 from $1.1114 the day before. The dollar rose to 119.35 yen from 119.01 yen.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil increased $1.05 to $59.63 a barrel in New York. Brent crude rose 94 cents to $66.78 a barrel in London.