Wall Street Drifts on Bonds, Oil

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street isn't moving much Thursday, but a swirl of competing forces are pushing and pulling on financial markets under the seemingly calm surface.

The S&P 500 was 0.3% lower in morning trading following a mixed set of profit reports from Tesla and other influential stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 135 points, or 0.4%, as of 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.1% lower.

The bond market was also shifting back and forth. Rising yields there have been the main force pushing stocks lower in recent months, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury ticked up to 4.94% from 4.91% late Wednesday. Earlier in the morning, though, it jumped above 4.98% to touch its highest level since 2007.

Crude oil prices, meanwhile, gave back some of their big jump from a day before, which was launched by worries that war in the Middle East could lead to disruptions of supplies.

With so many moving parts, much of the focus has been on Treasurys, which act as the reference point for most financial markets. The 10-year yield has been on a mostly steady march from less than 3.50% during the spring as a resilient U.S. economy forces investors to accept a new normal where the Federal Reserve likely keeps its main interest rate high for a long time.

The Fed is trying to push inflation lower, and high rates do that by dragging on investment prices, corporate profits and the overall economy. A new climate of high rates would be a harsh change for a generation of investors who have enjoyed pretty much only very low rates.

Another report came Thursday to show the U.S. job market remains remarkably solid, even though the Fed has already pulled its main rate to the highest level since 2001. Fewer U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected, which indicates low levels of layoffs across the country.

While that's good for an economy that has defied predictions of a recession, it could also give inflation more fuel.

A separate report, though, said manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region is weakening by more than economists expected. Manufacturing has been one part of the economy that's been particularly hard hit by high interest rates.

The housing market has also felt the sting of high rates, with mortgage rates at their highest levels since 2000. A third report Thursday said sales of previously occupied homes fell last month, though not by as much as economists expected.

What happens next with yields and the value of the U.S. dollar will depend on whether the U.S. economy can indeed pull off what's called a "soft landing," where growth slows enough to snuff out inflation but not so much that it causes a bad recession. It will also depend on how sticky inflation is following that landing, according to Athanasios Vamvakidis, foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of America.

Vamvakidis wrote in a BofA Global Research report that he sees risks of yields and the dollar remaining high after the landing, even if they're both lower than current levels.

High yields hurt all kinds of stocks, but they hit particularly hard on those bid up for expectations of big growth far in the future and those seen as very expensive. That's often put the spotlight on Big Tech recently, and some reported a mixed set of profits.

Tesla fell 8.1% after it reported weaker results for the summer than analysts expected. It's been cutting prices to drive sales, but that also eats into its profitability.

On the opposite end was Netflix, which jumped 15.6%. It reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected, and it said it would raise prices on some of its membership levels to drive more revenue.

KeyCorp rose 2.4% after reporting stronger profit than expected for the summer. It and other banks smaller in size than the industry's biggest titans struggled earlier this year after high interest rates helped cause three high-profile bank failures.

Zions Bancorp. fell 5.5% even though it also reported stronger profit than expected for the latest quarter.

American Airlines flew 3.4% higher after reporting stronger profit than expected for the busy summer season. It and other airlines regained some of their sharp losses from a day before, when United Airlines warned that high fuel prices and the suspension of flights to Tel Aviv would eat sharply into its profits at the end of the year.

Overall, analysts expect companies across the S&P 500 index to report slight growth in their earnings per share for the summer versus a year earlier. If they do, it would be the first such growth in a year.

In the oil market, a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude fell 0.6% to $86.75. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 0.7% to $90.82. A day earlier, both jumped at least $1.60 on worries that the latest Hamas-Israel war could draw in Iran, Saudi Arabia or other big oil-producing countries.

In stock markets abroad, indexes fell across Europe after slumping more sharply across Asia.