Retail gains and bank losses leave US stocks little changed

By The Herald-Dispatch

Major U.S. indexes stood stock-still for the third consecutive day Thursday as gains for retailers were canceled out by losses for banks and other companies.

Energy companies again headed lower after a sharp drop in oil prices the day before. Amazon and media company Viacom led consumer-focused companies higher. The Nasdaq composite inched higher and notched its eighth gain in a row.

Banks fell along with interest rates after the Labor Department reported that wholesale prices were little changed in July. That’s a sign inflation pressures weakened slightly, which could encourage the Federal Reserve to go slower in its process of raising interest rates.

Trading this week has been light and investors seem to have set aside their worries about trade tensions. The S&P 500 made a solid gain on Monday but has hardly budged since then. The VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect, has fallen to its lowest level since early January.

“It’s not that risk has gone away,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist for TD Ameritrade. “Quantifiable risk is not there right now.”

The S&P 500 index fell in the final minutes of trading, closing down 4.12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,853.58. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 74.52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,509.23.

The Nasdaq composite added 3.46 points to 7,891.78. The Russell 2000, an index of smaller companies, added 4.01 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,690.89.

The Labor Department said wholesale prices were unchanged in July. Gas and food prices both slipped and soybeans prices tumbled, likely reflecting a buildup in stockpiles after China imposed tariffs on them in retaliation for U.S. duties.

This article provided by NewsEdge.