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Stocks indexes waver between small gains and losses

New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Major U.S. stock indexes closed modestly lower Monday, with some of the biggest declines coming in oil and gas companies as energy prices turned lower. 

Companies that rely on consumer spending also lost ground. Utilities and telecom stocks, which pay large dividends, bucked the downward trend as bond yields fell. 

Investors had their eye on corporate earnings. Some 80 of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are scheduled to report their quarterly results this week. How those companies fared in the third quarter, and how they see their prospects for growth in coming months, should give traders a better handle on the state of the economy. 

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 51.98 points, or 0.3%, to 18,086.40. The average was down as much as 75 points earlier in the day. Its two biggest decliners: McDonald’s and Nike, each down 1%. 

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The S&P 500 index slid 6.48 points, or 0.3%, to 2,126.50. The Nasdaq composite index fell 14.34 points, or 0.3%, to 5,199.82. 

The three indexes have posted weekly declines the last two weeks. The Dow and Nasdaq are up about 3.8% for the year, while the S&P 500 is up 4%. 

The market action got off to an uneven start on Monday as traders pored over company earnings. The major indexes wavered between small gains and losses in the first couple of hours of trading, before settling into the red by midday. 

Hasbro surged 7.4%, the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, after the toy maker posted better-than-expected revenue in its latest quarter. The stock climbed $5.66 to $81.82. Shares in rival Mattel got a slight bump. The company, which is due to report quarterly results on Wednesday, rose 8 cents, or 0.3%, to $30.18. 

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Bank of America also reported encouraging third-quarter results, including earnings that climbed nearly 6% from a year earlier, helped by strong results in investment banking and trading. The stock added 5 cents, or 0.3%, to $16.05. 

J.B. Hunt Transport Services’ results fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts. The stock slid $1.57, or 2%, to $78.45. 

While the energy sector leads all others in the S&P 500, up 14.2% for the year, it was among the biggest laggards again on Monday. 

Southwestern Energy was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding 43 cents, or 3.3%, to $12.47. Chesapeake Energy fell 21 cents, or 3.2%, to $6.35. Devon Energy shed $1.31, or 3%, to $41.77. 

Beyond earnings, investors also bid up shares in SuperValu after the grocery store and logistics company agreed to sell its Save-A-Lot unit to Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp. for $1.37 billion. The stock added 29 cents, or 5.8%, to $5.30. 

European markets fell as a broad rise in government bond yields suggested investors are expecting less central bank stimulus and higher interest rates than before. 

Germany’s DAX slid 0.7%, while France’s CAC 40 fell 0.5%. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.9%. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 wobbled but finished 0.3% higher. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.2%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.8%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.8%. The SET of Thailand dropped 0.2%. Other markets in Southeast Asia were mostly lower. 

U.S. benchmark crude oil fell 41 cents, or 0.8%, to close at $49.94 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 43 cents, or 0.8%, to close at $51.52 a barrel in London. 

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Other energy futures were closed flat or lower. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.49 a gallon. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $1.57 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents, or 1.2%, to $3.24 per 1,000 cubic feet. 

In metals trading, the price of gold rose $1.10 to $1,256.60 an ounce, while silver added 3 cents to $17.47 an ounce. Copper was little changed at $2.11 a pound. 

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.77% from 1.80 late Friday. 

In currency markets, the dollar weakened to 103.85 yen from 104.18 on Friday, while the euro strengthened to $1.0997 from $1.0983. 


UPDATES:

2:30 p.m.: This article was updated after the close of markets.

8:15 a.m.: This article was updated with more recent market information. 

This article was originally published at 6:55 a.m.

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