U.S. Stock Indexes Edge Lower in Afternoon Trading; Oil Rising

(AP) -
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stock indexes wavered between small gains and losses Thursday afternoon. The choppy trading came as energy and industrial companies climbed, offsetting a pullback in technology stocks, utilities and other sectors. Small-company stocks were faring better than the rest of the market. The price of crude veered lower after an early rally.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index slipped 9 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,713 as of 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 113 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,654. The Nasdaq composite fell 42 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,355. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,619, a day after it closed at an all-time high. Two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

SLICK DEAL: Williams Partners jumped 7 percent to $41.12 after it agreed to be acquired by oil pipeline company Williams Cos. in an all-stock deal they valued at $10.5 billion.

BEEFING UP: Kroger rose 2.5 percent to $25.58, after the supermarket operator said it’s increasing its investment in the British online grocer Ocado, as it fends off Amazon.com and other online threats to traditional grocers. The subscription rights agreement will give Kroger access to Ocado’s online ordering, automated fulfillment and home delivery technology in the U.S.

A GOOD LOOK: Dillard’s climbed 5.5 percent to $75.93, after the department store chain’s latest quarterly results beat Wall Street’s expectations.

SWITCH OFF: Cisco slid 3.7 percent to $43.51 after the seller of routers and switches, and after software’s latest quarterly results disappointed investors. The slide in Cisco helped pull technology-sector stocks lower.

WORRISOME OUTLOOK: J.C. Penney sank 12.1 percent to $2.70 after the struggling department store chain said it might take a loss in 2018, as it cut its annual forecast.

BURGER BLAHS: Shares in Jack in the Box lost 7.3 percent to $84.74, after the burger chain reported disappointing results in its fiscal second quarter.

NOT WELL: Wells Fargo fell 1.5 percent to $54.22, after the Wall Street Journal reported that some employees in its business banking division improperly altered information on documents related to corporate customers.

REQUEST DENIED: Shares in CBS slid 4.8 percent to $51.24, after a Delaware judge refused Thursday to grant the company a restraining order against its majority shareholder. CBS had sought to prevent Shari Redstone’s National Amusements from thwarting a board vote scheduled for later Thursday, on a dividend that would dilute National Amusements’ voting power, effectively giving CBS independence.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil gave up early gains, sliding 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $71.37 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oil, rose 32 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $79.60 a barrel in London. Earlier, it went above $80 a barrel, its highest level since November 2014.

Energy stocks notched solid gains. Valero Energy gained 4.3 percent to $119.98.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.11 percent from 3.10 percent late Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.70 yen from 110.25 yen on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1797 from $1.1802.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX gained 0.9 percent, while France’s CAC 40 rose 1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.7 percent. Major indexes in Asia finished mostly lower. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index added 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent. The Kospi in South Korea slid 0.5 percent.