US Stocks Barely Budge in Early Trade

US Stocks Barely Budge in Early Trade

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are hardly budging Thursday morning after big gains over the last two days. Banks and chemicals companies are down the most. However retailers, which have been pummeled in recent weeks, traded higher following a group of strong earnings reports.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2 points to 17,849 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index held steady at 2,090. The Nasdaq composite index rose less than 1 point to 4,895. Stocks have climbed over the last two days and are trading close to their highest prices in 2016.

TURNING AROUND: Banks and chemicals companies, which made some of the biggest gains on Wednesday, traded lower. Monsanto, which has jumped on talks about a potential sale to Bayer, lost 70 cents to $110.98. Dow Chemical fell 14 cents to $52.72.

Banks slipped along with bond yields. Citigroup slid 58 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $46.36 and Citizens Financial gave up 27 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $23.42. Bond prices rose and the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.85 percent from 1.87 percent.

OIL RALLY: U.S. crude gained 23 cents to $49.80 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 18 cents to $49.92 a barrel in London. Oil prices are at their highest level since October and U.S. crude is near $50 a barrel, a level it hasn't surpassed since July.

RETAIL GAINS: Department store Sears jumped after it said it is looking at options for its Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard and Sears Home Services businesses. Those options could include partnerships or deals that would expand distribution of its products, getting them into more stores outside of Sears and Kmart locations.

Sears rose 71 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $13.23. Discount retailer Dollar Tree retailer raised its forecasts for the year after it reported its first-quarter results. The stock gained $7.84, or 10 percent, to $86.20.

Retailers have tumbled in recent weeks as they've reported weak earnings reports. Among other problems, shoppers aren't spending as much on clothes and the strong dollar is hurting their profits and sales overseas.

But on Thursday, PVH, the owner of the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands raised its profit forecasts for the year after it reported strong quarterly results. PVH also said it the strong dollar won't hurt its results quite as much as it originally expected. Its stock added $5.06, or 5.6 percent, to $94.89.

Wholesale club operator Costco also rose $7.50, or 5.2 percent, to $152.04 after making its quarterly report.

H-P U-P: Personal computer and printer maker HP reported a bigger profit than analysts had forecast, and it gave a solid outlook for the year. The stock climbed 66 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $12.86.

US ECONOMY: The government said new applications for unemployment benefits fell to 268,000 last week. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the decline suggests that companies feel comfortable enough to hold on to their workers.

A separate report showed that orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in April. However that was mostly because of an increase in commercial aircraft sales, and those sales can rise or fall by a lot from month to month. A measurement of business investment fell for the third month in a row, signaling that manufacturing is still under pressure.

OVERSEAS: France's CAC rose 0.3 percent and Germany's DAX continued its rapid ascent, rising 0.4 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.3 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 index added nearly 0.1 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.1 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar is down to 109.58 yen from 110.10 yen. The euro rose to $1.1195 from $1.1160.