U.S. Stocks Inch Lower As Oil Prices Keep Dropping

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2014, file photo, people walk to work on Wall Street beneath a statue of George Washington, in New York. Stocks are opening slightly higher on Wall Street, Thursday, May 4, 2017, led by gains in banks and makers of consumer goods. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK  — U.S. stocks are mostly lower Thursday morning as oil prices continue to drop and energy companies take sharp losses. Banks are climbing as bond yields increase, which will allow lenders to charge higher interest rates on loans. Health care stocks are a bit higher as Congress prepares to vote on a bill intended to roll back much of former President Barack Obama's health care law.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1 point to 2,389 as of 10:45 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,934. The Nasdaq composite added 1 point to 6,073. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks dipped 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,387. On the New York Stock Exchange, two out of every three stocks fell.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude futures shed another $1.29, or 2.7 percent, to $46.53 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oils, fell $1.22, or 2.4 percent, to $49.57 a barrel in London. Oil was already trading at its lowest price since November and energy companies declined along with it. Exxon Mobil skidded 63 cents to $82.07 and Marathon Oil lost 49 cents, or 33 percent, to $14.36.

BONDS: Bond prices dropped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.36 percent from 2.32 percent. Banks climbed higher because the increase in bond yields is sending interest rates higher. Citigroup rose 44 cents to $60.68 and Citizens Financial Group gained 34 cents to $37.55.

HEALTH VOTE: House Republicans planned a vote on a revised bill rolling back much of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The new legislation would rework subsidies for private insurance, limit federal spending on Medicaid for low-income people and cut taxes on upper-income individuals used to finance Obama's overhaul. The House vote is expected to be close and it's not clear if the bill can pass the Senate, or how Senators might change it if it does.

Health care companies included drugmakers and insurance companies traded higher. Animal health products maker Zoetis and prescription drug distributor AmerisourceBergen rose after they delivered their first-quarter reports.

NO LIES: Facebook's first-quarter profit and sales were stronger than expected, but the social network's stock dipped $1.15 to $150.65. Facebook's stock is up 30 percent this year and is trading at all-time highs.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS: Church & Dwight, which makes Arm & Hammer baking soda, Trojan condoms and OxiClean cleaning products, raised its profit estimate after its first-quarter results were better than analysts expected. Its stock rose $2.47, or 5.1 percent, to $51.22. Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts maker Kellogg posted a larger profit than excepted and its stock picked up $2.25, or 3.3 percent, to $71.19 even though the company's sales weren't as high as investors had hoped.

BANKING ON IT: Tennessee-based First Horizon agreed to buy North Carolina's Capital Bank Financial in a deal the companies valued at $2.2 billion. They said it will make one of the largest regional banks in the Southeastern U.S. However investors were far from excited and both stocks slumped. Capital Bank fall $2.92, or 7 percent, to $39.13 and First Horizon National declined 66 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $18.16.

FASTER PACE: Fitness tracking device maker Fitbit jumped 72 cents, or 12.7 percent, to $6.40 after its first-quarter results were stronger than analysts expected.

FED IN FOCUS: On Wednesday the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, as investors expected. However the Fed said it expects the economy to recover from its sluggish growth in the first quarter, and that's a hint the central bank expects to raise rates again soon. That's aiding bond yields and the dollar.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 112.69 yen from 112.64 yen. The euro rose to $1.0946 from $1.0906.

OVERSEAS: The CAC 40 in France rose 1.1 percent following a debate between the French presidential candidates. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will face off in the final round of voting Sunday, and Macron maintains a large lead in the polls. He is perceived to be more business-friendly and is an advocate of France's continued use of the euro and membership of the European Union. That helped send the euro higher Thursday.

Germany's DAX rose 0.8 percent and the FTSE 100 index in Britain was unchanged.

The South Korean Kospi added 1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged 0.1 percent lower. Japan's market remained closed for a holiday.


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


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