Stocks listless in early trade; S&P 500 headed for flat week

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up almost 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,437, as of 10:45 a.m.

On Tuesday, WTI slipped into bear-market territory, defined as a drop of at least 20% from a recent peak, as fears over rising supply from the U.S., Nigeria and Libya gripped the market.

The Shanghai composite index was up 0.7 per cent at the close of the ASX as investors weighed the benefits from 222 stocks being included in the MSCI emerging market index.

Sliding oil prices have added to concerns on the inflation outlook, which along with a flattening yield curve, could pose a challenge to the Fed in deciding whether the economy was ready for another interest rate hike this year. Benchmark U.S. crude added 27 cents to settle at $43.01 per barrel. Benchmark US crude rose 21 cents to settle at $42.74 per barrel, and Brent crude, the worldwide standard, added 40 cents to $45.22 per barrel. The energy sector, which is down 15% this year, is the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500 stock index. Its stock rose $8.96, or 10 percent, to $98.92.

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

Spot iron ore rose 0.6 per cent to $US56.82 a tonne yesterday but Singapore futures were down 0.5 per cent today. Asian financial markets were mostly higher after a plunge in oil prices dragged down energy stocks on Wall Street.

Accelerating corporate profits - and expectations that they'll continue - have been a big reason for the stock market's gains this year, and energy companies had been forecast to provide some of the biggest gains.

Both main crude contracts dived more than two percent Wednesday despite a bigger-than-forecast drop in United States inventories, with analysts suggesting OPEC and Russian Federation should announce further output cuts.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY.O) shares touched record low as the company reported a bigger-than-expected fall in same-store sales in the first quarter.

GOOD, BUT NOT ENOUGH: Accenture fell $4.89, or 3.9 percent, to $122.22 for the largest loss in the S&P 500.

Bond prices were little changed, and yields held relatively steady.

YIELDS: The 10-year Treasury yield dipped to 2.14 percent from 2.15 percent late Wednesday. The two-year yield ticked up to 1.35 percent from 1.34 percent, and the 30-year yield held steady at 2.72 percent. The euro rose to $1.1138from $1.1128, and the dollar rose to 111.64 Japanese yen from 111.41 yen.

Telecommunications stocks fell 1.2% on Wednesday.

In overseas stock markets, the French CAC 40 rose 0.1 percent, the German DAX rose 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.1 percent.

EUROPEAN GROWTH: 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. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was unchanged at 25,694.72 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 added 0.6 percent to 5,698.00.

COMMODITIES: Gold rose $7.40 to $1,256.80 per ounce.

  • Zachary Reyes