Stocks Flat as Yuan, Oil Stabilize

NEW YORK (AP) --- Stocks were mostly flat in early afternoon trading on Friday as China's currency stabilized and oil edged up after hitting its lowest price in more than six years. Slightly disappointing European growth figures weighed on stock markets there.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 36 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,446 as of 12:24 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,085. The Nasdaq composite fell seven points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,026.

CHINA CALM: China's currency, the yuan, was stable after a sharp drop earlier this week that triggered a sell-off in stock and commodities markets around the world. On Friday, the dollar was buying 6.393 yuan, little changed from the previous day when Zhang Xiaohu, a deputy governor at People's Bank of China, said there is "no basis for persistent and substantial devaluation."

THE QUOTE: "People were worried that the country was in more trouble," said Sean Lynch, co-head of global equity strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. "We see China's growth slowing, but we don't see it collapsing."

OIL LOW: The price of crude oil is rising after hitting its lowest price in more than six years amid concerns over a slowing economy in China, a huge energy consumer, and abundant global production. The price of benchmark U.S. crude rose 17 cents to $42.40 a barrel.

RETAILERS JUMP: J.C. Penney rose 41 cents, or nearly 5.2 percent, to $8.49 after reporting a narrower loss in its second quarter on stronger-than-expected sales as the department store chain continues to turn its business around. Nordstrom also beat expectations in results reported after markets closed Thursday. It rose $3.99, or 5.4 percent, $78.99.

The earnings reports came a day after the Commerce Department reported U.S. retail sales climbed last month, raising hopes of continued good news for stores in the current quarter.

CHIP DIP: Applied Materials fell 59 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $16.45 after the chip-making equipment company said that revenue for its most recent reporting period fell short of analysts' expectations. The company also said sales for the current quarter could fall as much as 7 percent.

EUROPEAN GROWTH: Figures from The European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat, showed that economic growth across the region was 0.3 percent, down slightly from 0.4 percent growth in the first three months of the year. France and Italy were the main disappointments in the figures. German growth was also underwhelming when exports were taken out.

EUROPE SLIPS: Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent and the CAC-40 in France fell 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.3 percent.

GREEK BAILOUT: Greek lawmakers approved a draft of their country's third bailout. The government needed the bill to pass in time for its finance minister to head to Brussels to meet his eurozone counterparts, who will decide Friday afternoon whether to approve the draft deal. Greece needs the 85 billion euros ($93 billion) from the bailout to avoid defaulting on its debts.

BONDS: Bond prices barely moved, keeping the yield on the 10-year Treasury note at 2.19 percent.

(KA)