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U.S. stock indexes mostly lower in afternoon trade; oil slides


    Stock indexes are wavering between small gains and losses in early trading on Wall Street, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, as gains for technology companies are offset by losses in energy and other sectors.

A slide in health care and industrial companies helped nudge U.S. stock indexes mostly lower in afternoon trading today as the market pulled back slightly from its latest record highs. Energy stocks also fell as crude oil prices declined. Technology companies were among the biggest gainers. Investors were weighing the latest company earnings news, while also keeping an eye on Washington ahead of a possible federal government shutdown this weekend.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,800 as of 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 73 points, or 0.3 percent, to 26,043. The Nasdaq added 1 point to 7,300. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 5 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,580. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit record highs on Wednesday.

THE QUOTE: The market’s dip from its latest highs represents “just a little setback,” said Craig Callahan, chief investment officer at ICON Advisers. “We’re still bullish and expect the market to move higher over the next year.”

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN LOOMS: Republicans and Democrats were scrambling Thursday to avert a possible federal government shutdown before a midnight Friday deadline. Republicans were trying to pass a funding bill that would prevent the shutdown of federal agencies, but Democrats threatened to vote against the bill unless the White House and GOP lawmakers include protections for younger immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Should the shutdown happen, it could sap some of the stock market’s momentum, said J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

“What it really is going to affect is confidence,” Kinahan said.

UNDER THE WEATHER: Health care stocks were down in early trading. Cardinal Health slid $1.57, or 2.2 percent, to $71.08.

ROUGH QUARTER: Alcoa tumbled 8.5 percent after the company reported a wider loss in the fourth quarter. Alcoa said it will freeze its pension and move some employees to a defined contribution retirement plan starting in 2021 as it looks to cut costs. The stock lost $4.83 to $52.16.

MIXED RESULTS: Banks were moving after several of them reported quarterly results. Morgan Stanley rose after its latest earnings beat Wall Street’s expectations. The stock added 18 cents to $55.53. Bank of NY Mellon and KeyCorp were trading lower after their latest quarterly snapshots. Bank of NY Mellon lost $2.79, or 4.8 percent, to $55.10, while KeyCorp lost 60 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $20.66.

RESILIENT TECH: Technology stocks, one of the biggest gainers this year, continued to notch gains. Advanced Micro Devices picked up 35 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $12.53.

CHECKING IN: La Quinta rose 3.2 percent after Wyndham Worldwide agreed to buy its hotel franchise and management business. Shares in La Quinta added 63 cents to $20.08. Wyndham gained $6.09, or 5.2 percent, to $123.22.

ENERGY: Benchmark crude fell 3 cents to $63.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 12 cents to $69.26 a barrel.

The decline in oil prices weighed on some energy sector stocks. Kinder Morgan slid 57 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $19.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.60 percent from 2.59 percent late Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.08 yen from 111.13 yen on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.2224 from $1.2235.

BITCOIN: The price of bitcoin was moving higher after slumping earlier for much of this week. The digital currency was up 5 percent to $11,693, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. Bitcoin futures on the Cboe Futures Exchange rose 7.9 percent to $11,670. The futures allow investors to make bets on the future price of bitcoin.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major stock indexes in Europe finished mixed. Germany’s DAX rose 0.7 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was little changed. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished 0.4 percent lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.4 percent after China reported 6.9 percent economic growth in 2017, faster than expected. South Korea’s Kospi inched up less than 0.1 percent.

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