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US stocks are mixed as energy companies rise, retailers dip

September 14, 2017 - 2:15 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are mixed Thursday after finishing at record highs the last two days. Companies that sell everything from clothes to groceries are slipping after the government said prices paid by consumers jumped in August. That could be a sign inflation is increasing, which would push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at a faster pace and slow the economy down. Boeing and other industrial companies are rising, and so are energy companies.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,496 as of 3:05 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,201. The Nasdaq composite slumped 22 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,438. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1424.

On the New York Stock Exchange, there were slightly more winners than losers.

PRICES: U.S. consumer prices grew 0.4 percent in August as gas and housing costs rose, according to the Labor Department. Prices are up 1.9 percent over the last year. That could show inflation is rising, but it's not clear how much of the recent increase in gas prices was due to Hurricane Harvey, which deluged the Gulf Coast region in late August and caused drilling rigs and refineries to shut down.

The Federal Reserve is meeting next week and investors wondered if Thursday's report makes it more likely the Fed will raise interest rates later in the year. Higher interest rates make borrowing more expensive and slow down economic growth.

Under Armour fell 21 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $17.91 and discount retailer Ross Stores lost 92 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $60.49. Amazon shed $5.85 to $993.75. Coca-Cola lost 40 cents to $46.10 and grocery store operator Kroger fell 44 cents, or 2 percent, to $21.29.

Jewelry seller Tiffany dropped $4.51, or 4.7 percent, to $91 after one of its biggest shareholders, Qatar's investment fund, said it sold some of its Tiffany stock.

THE QUOTE: Michael Scanlon, a portfolio manager for Manulife Asset Management, said the consumer price data isn't likely to change the Fed's plans. But if inflation does get stronger over the next few months, he doesn't think that will be a problem for the market.

"If inflation did pick up, it would be a sign of more health in the economy overall," he said. That would ultimately lead to more consumer spending and bigger corporate profits.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 59 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $49.89 a barrel. During the day it traded above $50 for the first time in a month. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 31 cents to $55.47 barrel in London.

Among energy companies, Halliburton advanced 45 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $42.25 and Chevron picked up 31 cents to $114.49.

TAKEOFF: Boeing rose another $3.20, or 1.3 percent, to $245.13. Wednesday afternoon, CEO Dennis Muilenberg said the company expects to start delivering more planes. The stock rose 0.6 percent a day ago. Other industrial companies also climbed. United Technologies gained $2.35, or 2.1 percent, to $112.63.

DEAL DEAD: Chipmaker Lattice Semiconductor wobbled after the U.S. government stopped its sale to a firm backed by the Chinese government because of national security concerns. Lattice accepted the $1.02 billion offer from Canyon Bridge Partners in November, but investors have long been skeptical the deal would be completed. Last week a U.S. government panel said the sale should be blocked.

Lattice wobbled and traded at $5.72 Thursday afternoon, matching Wednesday's close. Canyon Bridge agreed to pay $8.30 a share.

OVERSEAS: The Bank of England kept its key interest rate at a record low but indicated that it could start raising rates sooner than markets have been expecting. That sent the pound higher and British stocks lower. A stronger pound would hurt the earnings of British companies that do a lot of business overseas.

Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.1 percent while the French CAC 40 rose 0.1 percent and Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent.

Investors in Asia were disappointed after China's National Bureau of Statistics said the world's second-largest economy grew at a slower pace in August. The Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.4 percent. The Kospi in South Korea gained 0.7 percent.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.63 a gallon. Heating oil added 1 cent to $1.78 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.07 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold rose $1.30 to $1,329.30 an ounce. Silver dropped 8 cents to $17.79 an ounce. Copper lost 2 cents to $2.96 a pound.

BONDS: Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.20 percent from 2.19 percent. The yield on the 2-year note rose to 1.37 percent from 1.35 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slid to 110.54 yen from 110.66 yen. The euro rose to $1.1914 from $1.1873. The pound jumped to $1.3398 from $1.3197.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jays

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