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Monday May 20th, 2019 4:48AM

Retail gains and bank losses leave US stocks little changed

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — Major U.S. indexes stood stock-still for the third consecutive day Thursday as gains for retailers were canceled out by losses for banks and other companies.

Energy companies again headed lower after a sharp drop in oil prices the day before. Amazon and media company Viacom led consumer-focused companies higher. The Nasdaq composite inched higher and notched its eighth gain in a row.

Banks fell along with interest rates after the Labor Department reported that wholesale prices were little changed in July. That's a sign inflation pressures weakened slightly, which could encourage the Federal Reserve to go slower in its process of raising interest rates.

Trading this week has been light and investors seem to have set aside their worries about trade tensions. The S&P 500 made a solid gain on Monday but has hardly budged since then. The VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect, has fallen to its lowest level since early January.

"It's not that risk has gone away," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist for TD Ameritrade. "Quantifiable risk is not there right now."

The S&P 500 index fell in the final minutes of trading, closing down 4.12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,853.58. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 74.52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,509.23.

The Nasdaq composite added 3.46 points to 7,891.78. The Russell 2000, an index of smaller companies, added 4.01 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,690.89.

The Labor Department said wholesale prices were unchanged in July. Gas and food prices both slipped and soybeans prices tumbled, likely reflecting a buildup in stockpiles after China imposed tariffs on them in retaliation for U.S. duties.

Bond prices jumped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.93 percent from 2.97 percent. That hurt banks, as lower interest rates make long-term loans like mortgages less profitable.

Several companies traded on deal news, but most of the news was about deals that fell apart. Rite Aid called off its sale to the grocery chain Albertsons following opposition from advisory firms and one of Rite Aid's biggest shareholders. Rite Aid fell 11.5 percent to $1.54.

Walgreens tried to buy Rite Aid last year, but settled for buying about half of its stores after regulators opposed a full sale. The company has been struggling with high debt and tough competition.

Tribune Media withdrew from its planned sale to Sinclair Broadcasting and said it will sue Sinclair for breach of contract. Both stocks plunged in mid-July when the Federal Communications Commission expressed major concerns about the deal.

Tribune rose 2.9 percent to $34.60 and Sinclair added 2.6 percent to $27.80.

Electric car maker Tesla tumbled 4.8 percent to $352.45. The stock surged 11 percent Tuesday, mostly because CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an inquiry into the wording and the method of Musk's announcement, while Bloomberg News reported that the SEC started an inquiry even before the tweet.

Tesla has given up most of Tuesday's gain, suggesting investors are dubious about the potential deal.

Business information provider Dun & Bradstreet agreed to be bought by a group of investors for $145 a share, or about $5.4 billion. The stock rallied 15.8 percent to $142.21.

The S&P 500 is on track for its sixth weekly gain in a row as an unusually strong round of corporate earnings winds down. Retailers including Macy's and Walmart are scheduled to report their results next week, and Kinahan, of TD Ameritrade, said stocks could resume their upward climb if those companies say shoppers are still spending freely.

Online reviews company Yelp jumped 26.7 percent to $48.33 after it raised its revenue forecast and said advertising revenue surged in the second quarter. Video streaming company Roku climbed 21.3 percent to $57.32 after it took a smaller loss than analysts expected while its revenue surpassed expectations.

Travel site Booking Holdings lost 5 percent to $1,942.39 after a weak profit forecast. Generic drugmaker Perrigo cut its forecasts because of weak results from its prescription business and said it plans to split that unit into a separate company. The stock sank 10.6 percent to $70.03.

Crude prices stabilized following a 3 percent drop a day earlier. Benchmark U.S. crude oil dipped 0.2 percent to $66.81 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, lost 0.3 percent to $72.07 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline lost 1 percent to $2 a gallon. Heating oil slid 0.2 percent to $2.11 a gallon. Natural gas rose 0.2 percent to $2.96 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar inched up to 111.04 yen from 110.96 yen. The euro fell to $1.1542 from $1.1619.

Gold lost 0.1 percent to $1,219.90 an ounce. Silver added 0.2 percent to $15.46 an ounce. Copper gained 0.5 percent to $2.77 a pound.

The German DAX rose 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent while France's CAC 40 rose less than 0.1 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.9 percent and the Japanese Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi inched up 0.1 percent.

____

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
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