US stock indexes hold steady as oil's dismal week eases

USA crude was up 1.4 percent at $43.16 per barrel, while global benchmark Brent was 1.76 percent higher at $45.62. On Wall Street, the future for the Standard & Poor's 500 index was off 0.2 percent and that for the Dow Jones industrial average was off 0.1 percent. Other major health stocks, including Regeneron and Amgen, were down between 1 percent and 3 percent.

Altice founder Patrick Drahi, center, is applauded as he rings a ceremonial bell when his company's IPO begins trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, June 22, 2017.

OIL PRICES: The main focus in financial markets this week has been oil prices, which fell Wednesday to their lowest levels since August even though the OPEC oil cartel has along with Russian Federation reduced production.

At current levels, the S&P 500 energy index.SPNY, down 15 percent so far this year, is on track to post its worst weekly decline in about 18 months. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 crept up 0.2 percent to 5,715.90. Oil prices have been a drag on stock markets this week, with the S&P 500 energy sector down 3.3%, its worst weekly performance since the week ended February 5, 2016.

Energy stocks dove again on Wednesday as oil dropped to its lowest price since last summer, extending their dismal start to the year.

USA stock indexes were mixed in afternoon trading Wednesday after another dive for energy stocks offset gains for health care and technology stocks.

They followed the price of oil higher, as benchmark USA crude rose 35 cents to $43.09 per barrel. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3 percent to 25,739.93 but the Shanghai Composite in mainland China lost 0.2 percent to 3,142.14.

Gold prices were also supported by the notion that lower crude oil prices will be a drag on inflation.

The Fed's annual stress test results showed that 34 largest US banks have all cleared the first stage, implying they would be able to maintain enough capital in an extreme recession.

OPENING UP: Red Hat, an open-source software company, surged to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after reporting better-than-expected earnings for its latest quarter. While it was not clear whether the bill would get enough support to become law, drug stocks were among the S&P 500's biggest gainers, with Gilead GILD.O rising 4.4 percent on Thursday.

Envision Healthcare, which provides physician and ambulance services, jumped $2.73, or 4.7 percent, to $60.97. The two-year yield slipped to 1.33 percent from 1.34 percent, and the 30-year yield held steady at 2.72 percent.

On Wednesday, the CAC-40 fell 0.4 percent, while the DAX and the FTSE-100 both slipped 0.3 percent.

CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.1161 from $1.1167, and the British pound declined to $1.2656 from $1.2668.

YIELDS: The 10-year Treasury yield dipped to 2.14 percent from 2.15 percent late Thursday.

A monthly survey revealed that economic activity in the 19-country Eurozone slipped to a five-month low in June and below market expectations. However, the IHS Markit composite purchasing managers' index indicated that job creation and business confidence were still robust.

Natural gas was close to flat at $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.37 per gallon and wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $1.43 per gallon.

  • Zachary Reyes