U.S. Stock Indexes Wobble To a Mixed Finish 

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks hardly budged Thursday and finished with a mix of small gains and losses. Banks and airlines rose on strong first-quarter reports, while consumer products companies struggled.

The market wavered throughout the day. Stocks are coming off two big gains in a row and are trading at their highest levels of the year.

The& Dow& Jones industrial average added 18.15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,926.43. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index ticked up 0.36 points to 2,082.78. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.53 points to 4,945.89.

The results from banks haven’t been great so far, but investors expected even worse due to shaky loans to energy companies and low interest rates that have made lending less profitable.

Bank of America picked up 35 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $14.14, as its results met investor expectations. First Republic Bank jumped $2.38, or 3.5 percent, to $69.88 after the San Francisco bank reported a bigger-than-expected profit. Fifth Third Bank, another regional bank, gained 32 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $17.73.

Wells Fargo’s profit fell as it set aside more money to cover its struggling portfolio of oil and gas loans, one of the chief worries investors have about the financial industry. The stock slipped 24 cents to $48.79. Bank stocks jumped Wednesday after JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, reported results that beat expectations.

Data storage company Seagate Technology said its third-quarter profit margins and revenue will be lower than expected. The company said it’s seeing lower demand for some kinds of hard disk drives. Its stock plunged $6.82, or 20.1 percent, to $27.11, by far the largest loss in the S&P 500. Competitor Western Digital fell $2.98, or 6.7 percent, to $41.82 and NetApp lost $1.06, or 4 percent, to $25.64.

Delta Air Lines’ first-quarter profit jumped 27 percent, helped by low fuel costs. Delta’s stock gained 45 cents to $48.49, but its competitors had even bigger gains. American Airlines rose $1.23, or 3.1 percent, to $41.17 and United added $1.15, or 2.1 percent, to $56.73. JetBlue and Southwest also rose.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 26 cents to $41.50 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 34 cents to $43.84 a barrel in London.

Gold fell $21.80, or 1.7 percent, to $1,226.50 an ounce. Silver fell 15 cents to $16.17 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $2.17 a pound.

Claims for unemployment benefits dropped sharply last week and reached their lowest level since 1973. They’ve been at low levels for a year, which indicates the job market is healthy and employers aren’t letting go of workers. That suggests many companies see the recent slowdown as temporary.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.51 a gallon. Heating oil dipped 1 cent to $1.25 a gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents, or 3 percent, to $1.97 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.7 percent while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 index in Britain held steady. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 3.2 percent higher as the yen weakened slightly against the dollar. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent and the KOSPI in South Korea climbed 1.7 percent.

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