Stocks are mixed as tech weakness cancels out energy gains

U.S. market indexes are wobbling Wednesday afternoon as weakness in big technology companies cancels out gains in energy stocks and elsewhere in the market.

The market staged a brief rally around midday following a report that the U.S. was seeking new talks with China over trade.

Chipmakers and large technology companies are falling, and so are banks. Energy companies are rising as U.S. crude oil reaches its highest price since July.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,882 as of 1:50 p.m. Eastern time. It fell as much as 8 points, or 0.3 percent, early on, then rose as much as 6 points after the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. wants to start a new round of trade negotiations with China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 7 points to 25,978. The Nasdaq composite slid 38 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,933 as technology companies declined.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,711.

OIL: Oil prices built on Tuesday’s gains, and U.S. crude hit its highest price since mid-July. The Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude stockpiles fell by more than 5 million barrels last week.

Benchmark U.S. oil climbed 1.9 percent to $70.60 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, added 1.1 percent to $79.94 a barrel in London.

Energy companies also rose. Chevron climbed 1 percent to $116.19 and Schlumberger rose 1.1 percent to $61.01.

CHIPPED FINISH: Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Delaney downgraded Micron Technology stock to “Neutral” and said he expects weaker market conditions for several types of computer chips.

Micron fell 4.8 percent to $41.51 while Qualcomm lost 1.8 percent to $71.19 and Nvidia slipped 2.1 percent to $266.96.

TRADE TALKS: The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials recently proposed another round of trade negotiations. The report said the Trump administration wants to give the Chinese government another chance to address its concerns it imposes bigger tariffs on imports from China.

APPLE SPOTLIGHT: Apple unveiled new iPhones with larger screens on Wednesday, and also said new Apple Watches will have larger screens and new health-monitoring features.

Apple tends to trade lower on the days it announces new products, and it fell 0.7 percent to $222.27 Wednesday. It’s up 31 percent in 2018, however.

As the Apple Watch updates were announced, shares of fitness tracker company Fitbit slumped 5.2 percent to $5.63 in heavy trading.

ENERGY SURGE: Oil and gasoline prices jumped Tuesday as Hurricane Florence drew nearer to the East Coast and the U.S. government said it’s seeing signs that oil shipments from Iran are down. The U.S. is getting ready to put sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and has been pressing other countries to reduce their imports as well. That follows the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May.

Wholesale gasoline prices rose 1.2 percent to $2.04 a gallon. It jumped almost 3 percent the day before.

FDA WARNING: Cigarette makers jumped after the Food and Drug Administration said it is looking at steps to combat “an epidemic” of e-cigarette use by teenagers, and said companies need to address the problem or risk having their flavored products pulled off the market.

Altria Group jumped 6.63 percent to $63.37 and Philip Morris International rose 3.9 percent to $80.44.

BALM FOR GILEAD: Gilded Sciences and Dutch drugmaker Galapagos climbed after they said a rheumatoid arthritis drug met its goal in a late-stage study. Gilead gained 2.8 percent to $74.22 and Galapagos rose 17.6 percent to $120.80.

PRICES DOWN: The Labor Department said wholesale prices unexpectedly dipped in August, the first decline in a year and a half. That’s a sign inflation pressures could be easing. The agency’s producer prices index slipped 0.1 percent in August, although it’s up 2.8 percent over the last year.

The department said transportation and warehousing service prices fell for the month.

The dollar weakened and interest rates dipped, which put pressure on bank stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.96 percent from 2.98 percent.

METALS: Gold rose 0.7 percent to $1,210.90 an ounce. Silver added 1 percent to $14.29 an ounce. Copper climbed 2.1 percent to $2.68 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.14 yen from 111.59 yen. The euro rose to $1.1637 from $1.1586.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 gained 0.9 percent while the British FTSE and the DAX in Germany both rose 0.5 percent.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.3 percent, and the Kospi in South Korea was almost flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.3 percent lower.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at His work can be found at