Utility companies lead stock market lower

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are falling at midday as declines in utility companies weigh on the market.

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped below 17,000. It fell 53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,994 as of noon Eastern time Friday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,988. The index is headed for its first weekly decline since the start of August.

Dividend-rich utility stocks fell the most among the 10 industry groups in the index.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.59 percent, from 2.55 percent late Thursday, after news that August U.S. retail sales rose faster than economists predicted. That reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve could start hiking interest rates sooner than expected.