U.S. stock indexes edged lower in morning trading Thursday, paring some of their early losses. Energy companies were down following a drop in the price of oil after a meeting of OPEC ministers ended without an agreement on crude production cuts. Utilities also fell.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,769 as of 11:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed three points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,095. The Nasdaq composite index lost two points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,949.
ENERGY: OPEC oil ministers ended a meeting in Vienna without reaching a consensus on regulating supplies. Benchmark U.S. crude oil was down 36 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $48.65 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was down 15 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $49.57 a barrel in London.
OIL FALLOUT: Shares in several oil drilling and exploration companies were down. Diamond Offshore Drilling lost 76 cents, or 3 percent, to $24.55, while Transocean slid 35 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $9.48. Anadarko Petroleum fell $1.56, or 3 percent, to $50.84.
ROUGH QUARTER: Conn’s sank 23.7 percent after the retailer reported quarterly results that fell short of analysts’ estimates. The stock lost $2.78 to $8.93.
IN THE CLOUD: Online storage provider Box tumbled 12 percent after the company reported disappointing results late Wednesday. The stock fell $1.53 to $11.28.
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 83 cents, or about 1 percent, to $113.61.
SEXY SALES: L Brands, the company behind the Victoria’s Secret brand, rose 3.1 percent after it reported its latest sales figures. The stock added $2.15 to $70.56.
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 were mixed 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. Germany’s DAX was up 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was down 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1 percent. 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 1.80 percent from 1.84 late Wednesday. In currency markets, the dollar fell to 108.70 yen from 109.54 in the previous day’s trading. The euro fell to $1.1149 from $1.1186.