Stocks Mostly Lower at Midday

Stocks Mostly Lower at Midday

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks were mostly lower in midday trading Tuesday, taking a pause after five straight days of gains. DuPont's shares soared on news that its embattled CEO will retire, while biotechnology companies sank again. Energy stocks climbed as the price of crude oil rose sharply.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose four points, less than 0.1 percent, to 16,780 as of 12:05 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,977 and the Nasdaq composite fell 55 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,725.

DUPONT: The chemical giant DuPont rose $5.42, or 11 percent, to $56.72, the biggest gainer in the Dow average and the S&P 500. DuPont's CEO Ellen Kullman said she would retire next week. DuPont's profits have lagged in recent years and the company has been a target of activist investors like Nelsen Peltz.

SPINOFF: Mining and drilling company Freeport-McMoRan rose 52 cents, or 5 percent, to $11.71 after the company said it is exploring the idea of spinning off its oil and natural gas business into a separate company. Freeport is primarily a copper and gold mining company, but got into oil and gas drilling in recent years as oil prices were climbing.

CENTRAL BANKERS: Markets are increasingly confident the Federal Reserve will hold off for longer on raising interest rates following last week's jobs report, which showed that the U.S. economy was creating fewer jobs. On Thursday, investors will get the minutes from the Fed's meeting in September, which should provide clues on whether policymakers still feel confident about raising interest rates.

UNHEALTHY: Biotechnology stocks were among the hardest hit on Tuesday. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index sank more than 5 percent. Biotech stocks have been hammered in the past month on investor concerns that the industry might face more scrutiny from Washington over its drug pricing practices.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude jumped $1.97 to $48.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That helped send oil and gas companies sharply higher. ConocoPhillips, Chevron and ExxonMobil rose between 2 and 4 percent each.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 2.04 percent. The dollar slipped to 120.17 yen and the euro rose to $1.1270.

(BAS)