Energy Companies Lead Stock Slide

Energy Companies Lead Stock Slide

(AP) -- A slide in energy companies led a broad drop in U.S. stocks early Thursday. The sector fell sharply following a drop in the price of oil after a meeting of OPEC oil ministers ended without an agreement on crude production cuts.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,732 as of 10:23 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed seven points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,092. The Nasdaq composite index lost 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,939.

ENERGY: OPEC oil ministers ended a meeting in Vienna on Thursday without reaching a consensus on regulating supplies. Benchmark U.S. crude oil was down 81 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $48.20 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was down 56 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $49.16 a barrel in London.

OIL FALLOUT: Shares in several oil drilling and supply companies were down. Diamond Offshore Drilling lost 85 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $24.46, while Transocean slid 33 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $9.50.

ROUGH QUARTER: Conn's sank 24 percent after the retailer reported quarterly results that fell short of analysts' estimates. The stock lost $2.87 to $8.84.

IN THE CLOUD: Online storage provider Box tumbled 10.2 percent after the company reported disappointing results late Wednesday. The stock fell $1.31 to $11.50.

COME ON, VOGUE: Johnson & Johnson rose on news the company has agreed to buy privately-held hair care products maker Vogue International for about $3.3 billion. Vogue's hair care products are sold in the U.S. and 38 other countries. Johnson & Johnson shares rose 58 cents, or about 1 percent, to $113.36.

LAYOFFS PROXY: The Labor Department said fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, the third straight drop in a sign that the job market remains healthy despite a recent slowdown in hiring. Weekly applications for unemployment aid dipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 276,750.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, stock indexes mostly fell after the European Central Bank said that its stimulus measures are helping the economy of the 19 countries that use the euro and need time to work before any new monetary jolts are added. France's CAC 40 was down 0.2 percent, while Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE 100 were flat. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 2.3 percent after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to postpone a sales tax hike to avoid shocks to the faltering recovery. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.5 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.8 percent. South Korea's KOSPI rose 0.1 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.81 percent from 1.84 late Wednesday. In currency markets, the dollar fell to 108.62 yen from 109.54 in the previous day's trading. The euro fell to $1.1165 from $1.1186.

(KA)