stock market

Slide in Utility Companies Nudges the Market Down

The market closed slightly lower amid a slide in utility companies.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell two points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 2,097 Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 44 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,985. The Nasdaq rose 18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,924.

Stocks of power companies were the day’s biggest losers. Investors had pushed up the prices of the dividend-rich stocks last year as bond yields slumped. As yields have crept higher since the end of January, the sector has fallen out of favor.

KEEPING SCORE At midday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.46 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down 0.29 percent. The Nasdaq composite index edged up 0.09 percent.

ENERGY Oil prices continued their descent after last week’s gains, with the price of benchmark United States crude fell 98 cents to close at $ 51.16 in New York.

WALMART EARNINGS Shares in Walmart slid after the world’s largest retail chain turned in reports of revenue that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. Walmart also announced plans to give 500,000 of its United States employees a raise within six months.

EARNINGS IMPACT EOG Resources, a Houston-based oil and gas company, reported results late Wednesday that illustrated the impact of the seven-month slump in oil. Its earnings fell short of analysts’ expectations, and its stock slumped 5.4 percent, the biggest drop in the S.&P. 500.

THE NEGOTIATOR Priceline was the biggest gainer in the S.&P. 500. The stock jumped 7.3 percent as an increase in bookings helped the online travel company beat analysts’ expectations.

EUROPEAN MARKETS In Germany, the DAX was flat and in France, the CAC 40 rose 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 was down 0.1 percent in Britain.

GREECE SENDS REQUEST Greece sent its European creditors a proposal over its bailout, a move it hopes will unfreeze talks between the two sides and end uncertainty over its future in the euro. The government in Athens offered to extend its rescue loan agreement by six months, as the eurozone had demanded in order to give all sides more time to hash out a more permanent deal. However, it held back on offering to continue in full a series of budget cuts and reforms that the eurozone has required since 2010 in exchange for loans but that Greece blames for devastating its economy. Germany, the most important voice in the eurozone, appears to be skeptical. The 19 finance ministers of the eurozone will meet Friday to discuss the proposals.

ANALYST’S TAKE Kathleen Brooks, research director at, said the meeting Friday was “a sign that Greece may have shifted its negotiating position to a more Eurogroup-friendly stance.” However, she said any excitement should be tempered by the fact that Germany said it would reject the deal proposed by Greece in its current form.

ASIA’S DAY Most markets in Asia were closed Thursday for Lunar New Year holidays, but Japanese stocks climbed to their highest level in nearly 15 years earlier in the day after the release of strong trade data. The Nikkei 225 closed up 0.4 percent in Japan. Elsewhere in the region, Australia’s S.&P. ASX/200 lost 0.2 percent.

CURRENCIES AND BONDS The United States dollar fell to 118.63 against the Japanese yen, from 118.78 on Wednesday. The dollar edged up against the euro, to $ 1.1436 from $ 1.1399. Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.11 percent.

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