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Stocks have a mixed finish; energy firms rise, and tech firms drop

Stocks have a mixed finish; energy firms rise, and tech firms drop
More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

U.S. stocks closed mixed Thursday as technology companies took their worst loss in six weeks, but energy companies rose with oil prices. A four-day winning streak for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended.

Energy companies rallied as the price of U.S. crude oil rose almost 2%. Smaller companies fell. Like technology companies, smaller companies have done far better than the rest of the market in the last few weeks. Some stocks that have struggled lately, including utilities, finished with gains.

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Household goods makers also broke from their recent losses to finish higher. J.M. Smucker dropped after issuing a weak quarterly report and a disappointing forecast for the year. Bond prices climbed and yields slipped.

Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, said investors were playing it safe as they wait for leaders of the Group of Seven to meet Friday and Saturday and for European Central Bank and Federal Reserve meetings next week.

“This G-7 meeting does not follow the historical template,” she said. “The market is concerned about tariffs, negative trade dialogue coming from that meeting.”

Still, Krosby said, it's a good sign that investors were willing to take some of their winnings from the technology sector and put it into other parts of the market.

The S&P 500 index slipped 1.98 points, or 0.1%, to 2,770.37. The Dow Jones industrial average ticked up 95.02 points, or 0.4%, to 25,241.41, helped by big gains for McDonald's and Chevron.

The Nasdaq composite slumped 54.17 points, or 0.7%, to 7,635.07. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks slid 8.17 points, or 0.5%, to 1,667.77. Both of those indexes set all-time highs the last few days.

More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 1.9% to $65.95 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, jumped 2.6% to $77.32 a barrel in London.

Chevron shares climbed 2.9% to $126.96. Exxon Mobil shares rose 1% to $82.88.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. government has reached a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE that includes a $1-billion fine, monitoring and leadership changes. ZTE has already paid about $1 billion for selling equipment to North Korea and Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. In April the department blocked ZTE from importing any U.S. components for seven years, which threatened to put the company out of business.

The Wall Street Journal said that with the ZTE matter settled, China's government probably will approve a deal for Qualcomm to buy NXP Semiconductors. Qualcomm rose 1.3% to $60.64. NXP climbed 4.8% to $120.07.

Technology stocks have fared far better than the rest of the market for more than a year, but they broke from that pattern Thursday. Facebook fell 1.7% to $188.18. Microsoft fell 1.6% to $100.88. Chip maker Lam Research slid 5.4% to $188.83.

Smucker's retreated 5.4% to $100.80 after its profit and sales fell short of analyst estimates, as did the company's forecasts for the new fiscal year. The maker of jams, jellies and other foods said it is facing difficulties including higher raw materials and freight costs and rising interest rates.

Allergan jumped 5.1% to $163.27 after Bloomberg News reported that investor Carl Icahn bought a small stake in the Botox maker. Bloomberg had no details on Icahn's plans, but he could join other activist investors who are pushing the company to make bigger changes.

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At the end of May the company finished a strategic review and said it could sell its infectious disease and women's health businesses. But on Tuesday, Senator Investment Group and Appaloosa sent Allergan a letter saying they were “underwhelmed,” and they suggested splitting Allergan's chief executive and chairman roles and making changes to its board. Allergan stock is down 28% over the last 12 months.

The dollar fell to 109.60 yen from 110.19 yen. The euro rose to $1.1813 from $1.1768 after a European Central Bank board member said policymakers will discuss ending the bank's bond-purchasing stimulus program next week.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is expected to raise interest rates Wednesday. That would be the second increase in rates this year, and the Fed has said it expects to raise rates three times in 2018. But investors are looking for clues the Fed is planning a fourth increase.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.92% from 2.97%.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2.2% to $2.11 a gallon. Heating oil jumped 2.5% to $2.18 a gallon. Natural gas climbed 1.2% to $2.93 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 0.1% to $1,303 an ounce. Silver rose 0.7% to $16.82 an ounce. Copper rose 0.4% to $3.28 a pound.

In overseas markets, Germany's DAX edged down 0.1% and the CAC 40 in France slid 0.2%. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1%; London's stock exchange opened one hour late because of a technical problem.

Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 0.9%, the Kospi in South Korea rose 0.7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.8%.

2:30 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

11:55 a.m.: This article was updated with afternoon trading results.

This article was originally published at 7:05 a.m.

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