Energy Companies Pull Stocks Lower

Energy Companies Pull Stocks Lower

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock indexes are edging lower in afternoon trading Thursday as energy companies fall with the price of oil. Banks are higher as bond yields climb. Stocks have fallen for the last three days. Thursday marks the eighth anniversary of the current bull market.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell a fraction to 2,362 as of 1:40 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,833. The Nasdaq composite was little changed at 5,835.

The S&P 500 is up about 250 percent since March 9, 2009, when it bottomed out in the depths of the financial crisis. The current bull run is the second-longest since World War II.

BONDS: Bond prices fell further. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.58 percent from 2.56 percent. Higher bond yields mean higher interest rates on loans, which can translate into higher profits for banks. Citigroup picked up 45 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $61.56.

EXCESS ENERGY: Crude oil prices continued to slip after the U.S. government reported a huge buildup in fuel stockpiles early Wednesday. Oil is now trading at its lowest price since November, before OPEC countries agreed to reduce production in an effort to shore up prices.

Benchmark U.S. oil fell $1.33, or 2.6 percent, to $48.95 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, lost $1.35, or 2.5 percent, to $51.76 a barrel in London. Energy companies continued to trade lower. Halliburton retreated $1.24, or 2.4 percent, to $50.05 and Occidental Petroleum shed 70 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $61.37.

THE BIG STORE: Sears Holdings rose 31 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $7.80 after the company took a smaller adjusted loss than it did a year ago. Investors were also pleased the struggling chain kept its inventory and expenses under control. Sears also announced that it completed the sale of its Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker on Thursday for $900 million.

Office supply company Staples reported fourth-quarter sales that were far weaker than analysts expected and the company said it will close another 70 stores in North America. The stock gave up 29 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $8.67.

BAD FIT: Tailored Brands, the parent of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, plunged $7.44, or 31.8 percent, to $15.94. The company disclosed a rough fourth quarter that included a bigger loss than expected along with disappointing sales. The company also said it wants to rework an agreement with Macy's. In 2015 the company agreed to run tuxedo shops in 300 Macy's stores, but it said business isn't picking up the way it expected.

SEEKING GOOD CHEMISTRY: Paint and coatings maker PPG Industries lost $3.70, or 3.5 percent, to $103.13 after PPG said it offered to buy Dutch company Akzo Nobel earlier this month. PPG said Akzo Nobel rejected the offer, but it still thinks a deal makes sense and it will consider its next steps.

REGAINING ITS SHINE: Signet Jewelers jumped after it said it plans to spend more money on technology to support online sales and stores that aren't based in malls. The retailer is shutting down more stores that it's opening and will target mall brands for its store closings. Its stock rose $5.22, or 8.1 percent, to $69.62. The shares tumbled almost 13 percent in late February after a Washington Post report on widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at a subsidiary. The stock has recovered most of the ground it lost that day.

ECB IN FOCUS: The European Central Bank opted to keep interest rates and its monetary stimulus unchanged even though economic growth across Europe appears to be picking up steam and inflation has risen to the bank's targets.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 114.78 yen from 114.42 yen. The euro rose to $1.0582 from $1.0548.

OVERSEAS: Britain's FTSE 100 index sank 0.3 percent while German DAX added 0.1 percent and the CAC 40 in France gained 0.4 percent. The CAC 40 has jumped 2.5 percent this month, far more than other major European indexes. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.3 percent as a weaker yen lifted shares of exporters. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.2 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1.2 percent.