Stocks Edge Lower Again, But Wrap Up Best Week of the Year 


U.S. stocks inched lower Friday as the price of oil slipped and investors worried again about the health of the global economy. Chemicals companies fell the most. Despite the loss, the market still had its best week of the year.

Stocks declined as the price of oil slipped 4 percent, giving back some of its gains from the last week, and agricultural equipment giant Deere cut its sales projections. That helped touch off a wider slump that hurt chemicals, materials and mining companies. Consumer stocks like home improvement retailers and travel companies rose after the government said consumer prices are rising, a sign the U.S. economy is in good shape.

The& Dow& Jones industrial average fell 21.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,391.99. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped 0.05 points to 1,917.78. The Nasdaq composite index rose 16.89 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,504.43.

Stocks made big gains Tuesday and Wednesday. Then the rally stalled and indexes took small losses over the last two days. Still, the Nasdaq, which is still down 10 percent this year, logged its biggest weekly gain since July and the S&P 500 had its best week in two months.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.13, or 3.7 percent, to $29.64 a barrel in New York. It climbed 17 percent over the previous week. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, slid $1.27, or 3.7 percent, to $33.01.

That sent oil and gas stocks tumbling. Southwestern Energy dropped $1.40, or 16.5 percent, to $7.09 and Murphy Oil fell $1.24, or 7.3 percent, to $15.76.

Agricultural equipment company Deere lowered its sales forecast for the year as sales of farm and construction remain weak. That canceled out first-quarter results that were better than analysts expected. Deere lost $3.33, or 4.1 percent, to $77.

The Labor Department said prices for consumer goods have risen 1.4 percent over the last year, a sign that the pace of inflation is picking up and the economy is improving. The combination of a strong dollar and cheaper oil has suppressed inflation across much of the economy, but prices of other goods have been rising.

Gas prices are also very low. Consumers have mostly put their gas savings in the bank instead of spending it.

European stocks fell as the leaders of Britain and the rest of the 28-country European Union entered a second day of talks on how to reform the country’s membership in the bloc. The talks are stalled over a series of issues, including immigration rights.

Germany’s DAX fell 0.8 percent, while France’s CAC 40 and Britain’s FTSE 100 both declined 0.4 percent. Asian stocks were mixed, as Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China inched down 0.1 percent.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 1.3 cents to 95.9 cents a gallon. Heating oil lost 5.4 cents, or 5 percent, to $1.026 a gallon. Natural gas slid 4.8 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $1.804 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The price of gold increased $4.50 to $1,230.80 an ounce and silver fell 5.9 cents to $15.373 an ounce. Copper held steady at $2.068 a pound.

Bond prices ticked lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.76 percent from 1.74 percent. The euro rose to $1.1135 from $1.1094 Thursday. The dollar fell to 112.56 yen from 113.57 yen.

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