U.S. Stocks Are Mixed as Energy Companies Rise, Retailers Dip

NEW YORK (AP) -
Traders Edward McCarthy, left, and Michael Milano work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks are mixed Thursday after finishing at record highs the last two days. Companies that sell everything from clothes to groceries are slipping after the government said prices paid by consumers jumped in August. That could be a sign that inflation is increasing, which would push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at a faster pace and slow the economy down. Health care and energy companies are rising.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,495 as of 12:05 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 22,173. It was helped by more gains from aerospace company Boeing. The Nasdaq composite slumped 16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,443. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks remained at 1,426.

PRICES: U.S. consumer prices grew 0.4 percent in August, according to the Labor Department, and they’re up 1.9 percent over the last year. The increase in August came because gas and housing costs rose. That could show that inflation is rising, but it’s not clear how much of the increase in gas prices was due to Hurricane Harvey, which deluged the Gulf Coast region in late August and caused drilling rigs and refineries to shut down.

The Federal Reserve is meeting next week and investors wondered if Thursday’s report makes it more likely the Fed will raise interest rates later in the year. Higher interest rates make borrowing more expensive and slow down economic growth.

Jewelry seller Tiffany dropped $4.80, or 5 percent, to $90.71; and clothing company PVH skidded $1.81, or 1.4 percent, to $125.62. Coca-Cola lost 49 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $46.01; and grocery store operator Kroger fell 30 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $21.43.

HEALTHY AND WEALTHIER: Health care stocks mostly moved higher as they overcame early losses for prescription drug distributors. Drugmaker Pfizer gained 71 cents, or 2 percent, to $35.77; and Eli Lilly rose $1.28, or 1.6 percent, to $83.71. Hospital operator HCA added 59 cents to $79.63.

Hospital chain Tenet Healthcare climbed $1.02, or 6.3 percent, to $17.26 after the Wall Street Journal reported the company may sell itself.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 85 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $50.15 a barrel, the first time in a month it traded above $50. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 51 cents to $55.67 barrel in London.

Among energy companies, EQT Corp. picked up $1.95, or 3.1 percent, to $6.506; and Halliburton advanced 45 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $42.25.

TAKEOFF: Boeing rose another $2.69, or 1.1 percent, to $244.62. Wednesday afternoon, CEO Dennis Muilenberg said the company expects to start delivering more planes. The stock rose 0.6 percent a day ago.

DEAL DEAD: Chipmaker Lattice Semiconductor wobbled after the U.S. government stopped its sale to a firm backed by the Chinese government because of national security concerns. Lattice accepted the $1.02 billion offer from Canyon Bridge Partners in November, but investors have long been skeptical that the deal would be completed. Last week a U.S. government panel said the sale should be blocked.

Lattice shook off an early loss to rise 3 cents to $5.75. Canyon Bridge agreed to pay $8.30 a share.

OVERSEAS: The Bank of England kept its key interest rate at a record low but indicated that it could start raising rates sooner than markets have been expecting. That sent the pound higher and British stocks lower. A stronger pound would hurt the earnings of British companies that do a lot of business overseas.

Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.1 percent while the French CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent, and Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent.

Investors in Asia were disappointed after China’s National Bureau of Statistics said the world’s second-largest economy grew at a slower pace in August. The Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.4 percent. The Kospi in South Korea gained 0.7 percent.

BONDS: Bond prices held steady after two days of losses. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.19 percent. The yield on the 2-year note rose to 1.37 percent from 1.35 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 110.67 yen from 110.66 yen. The euro rose to $1.1885 from $1.1873. The pound jumped to $1.3401 from $1.3197.