Stocks waver as investors work through earnings


NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks continued to search for direction Thursday as investors worked through another batch of mixed company earnings, including results from Facebook, Ford and Whole Foods.

Investors are looking ahead to a meeting of the Bank of Japan tomorrow which is expected to result in an announcement of more stimulus for the world’s third-largest economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 38 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,434 as of 2:40 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose less than a point to 2,168 and the Nasdaq composite rose eight points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,148.

LIKE: Facebook shares rose $1.42, or 1.1 percent, to $124.75. The social networking company reported earnings that more than doubled from a year earlier, topping analysts’ views, as well as a 15 percent rise in monthly users. However the shares had been much higher earlier in the session. Investors will get results from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Amazon after the market close Thursday.

JAPAN IN FOCUS: Investors are now hoping for new stimulus efforts from the Bank of Japan, which is expected to vote Friday on expanding monetary policy measures aimed at reviving sputtering growth in Asia’s second-biggest economy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced 28 trillion yen ($266 billion) in extra government spending to jumpstart growth, but details are uncertain.

FED WATCH: Bond prices fell slightly, after jumping a day earlier following the decision by the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates steady. Investors are now looking to the September meeting. Securities that allow investors to bet on which way the Fed will move rates show a 25 percent chance that the Fed will increase rates at that meeting.

“We think September has a good chance of a rate hike, and this week’s announcement confirmed that,” said Kristina Hooper, head of U.S. investment strategies at Allianz Global Investors.

Hooper added that there are some investors who believe the Fed will not raise rates so close to a presidential election, but she does not see it as a major factor.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note was 1.51 percent, up from 1.50 percent the day before.

NOT SO ORGANIC: Whole Foods Market fell $3.22, or 9.5 percent, to $30.43 after the high-end supermarket chain reported that sales declined in the quarter, as the company faces more competition from other supermarkets who have been increasing their organic produce options.

HAVEN’T DRIVEN ONE LATELY: Ford lost $1.32, or 10 percent, to $12.52 after the company reported a 9 percent drop in profits as sales slowed in the U.S. and struggled in China. The company warned that its full-year guidance might need to be cut.

TECH DEAL: NetSuite jumped $16.62, or 18 percent, to $108.19 after computer software giant Oracle announced it was buying the company for $9.3 billion. NetSuite and Oracle both specialize in high-end software, but NetSuite specializes more in cloud computing while Oracle is heavy on mainframe database software.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 78 cents to close at $41.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost $1.40 to close at $43.47 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.31 a gallon, heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.27 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $2.67 per 1,000 cubic feet.

CURRENCIES: The euro was up against the dollar at $1.1071 while the dollar fell 0.2 percent to 105.38 yen.

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