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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Stocks Drop as Bristol-Myers Is Scrutinized

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks ticked lower Thursday, on track for a fourth day of declines, after drug giant Bristol Myers Squibb Co. dealt another stinging blow to investor confidence by becoming the latest target of federal scrutiny.

"A lot of people are worried. They don't want to be the last one out of the door," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView, which oversees $1 billion. "With each passing month, you are seeing that there is no upward trend. It makes individuals think 'let's get out now.' There's a depression-type mentality."

Technology stocks eked out gains at times amid some bargain-hunting in battered stocks. But the market drew little fuel from better news from household names like Internet media company Yahoo Inc! and photography giant Eastman Kodak Co.

Doubts over corporate credibility have cast a pall over the market for weeks, but the number of companies suspected of involvement in financial shenanigans grows larger by the day. Bristol-Myers confirmed its sales practices are being investigated by U.S. regulators. The disclosure sent its stock down more than 12 percent to 6-year lows.

The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 92.35 points to 8721.15, after sinking more than 2 percent earlier. On Wednesday, the blue-chip gauge suffered its largest one-day percentage loss since September 2001.

The Nasdaq Composite lost 3 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,342, off its session lows. The technology-packed index ended Wednesday at its lowest level since May 1997. The broad S&P 500 index shed 10 points, or 1.16 percent, to 909, after hitting its lowest level since October 1997 a day earlier.

Investors have suffered a loss of market value of nearly $7 trillion. This is based on a decline of more than 41 percent since the market's all-time high on March 24, 2000 on the Wilshire Total Market index.

Wall Street has charted a downward course as the latest leg of the vicious bear market that began in early 2000 played out on blow-ups like WorldCom Inc.'s $3.85 billion accounting scandal, fears of another attack on the United States and apprehension over upcoming quarterly earnings.

Bristol-Myers fell $2.85 at $20.30. The company said U.S. regulators are probing sales practices that led to excessive wholesaler purchases of its prescription drugs last year and bolstered fourth-quarter earnings.

Dow stock General Motors Corp. lost $1.72 to $45.89. UBS Warburg cut its rating on the No. 1 carmaker from "buy" to "hold" because of risks stemming from its large U.S. pension liabilities.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a Dow issue, dipped 16 cents to $53.60, erasing earlier gains. The world's largest retailer raised its quarter and full-year guidance, citing better-than-expected sales driven by demand for seasonal goods like air conditioners and summer clothes.

More good news came from Eastman Kodak, the world's top maker of photographic film, which said earnings would be higher than estimated, though still below a year ago. Kodak, also a component of the blue-chip Dow rose $2.16 to $28.80.

Yahoo!, the Internet media company, rose 16 cents to $12.35 after posting a second-quarter profit and higher revenues with the help of new fees on services, and raised its financial guidance for the year. But Wall Street house Merrill Lynch downgraded Yahoo! to a rare "reduce/sell" from "neutral" in the mid-term, citing concerns that the company could not sustain growth.

Technical analysts say more damage lurks for the market based on ominous signs left by recent price action. Both the tech-laden Nasdaq and the S&P broke key support, or levels where buyers emerged in the past. A breach of support usually sends an index down to the next support, technicians argue.

Economic data ahead of the open gave little solace to investors with one report showing a small uptick in producer level inflation and another showing the weekly number of Americans lining up for first time jobless benefits rising to 403,000, the highest level in six weeks.

Money managers and analysts also pointed to the fact that the battered market, after weeks of selling put indexes at multiyear lows, was the antithesis of its former high-flying self before the equity bubble burst in early 2000.