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Business

U.S. Stocks Waver as Retailers Rise and Tech Companies Slip

Apple fell $1.57, or 1 percent, to $159.29

A Wall Street street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange, photo: AP/Mark Lennihan, File
1 week ago

NEW YORK – U.S. stock indexes are hardly budging Wednesday as banks and technology companies give back some of their gains from earlier in the week while retailers and energy companies trade higher. Apple continues to take small losses a day after announcing its new lineup of iPhones. Target said it will hire far more workers for the holiday season this year, which has investors hoping for a strong holiday shopping period.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index held steady at 2,496 as of 12:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 22,134. The Nasdaq composite remained at 6,454. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,428.

The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq all closed at record highs Tuesday and investors appeared to be hunting for bargains. Energy and telecommunications companies, which have fallen sharply this year, traded a bit higher. Retailers have also stumbled. Meanwhile some of the best-performing industries of the year, including technology and health care companies, took small losses.

ON SALE? Department store chain Nordstrom climbed after CNBC reported that the Nordstrom family is close to a deal to take the company private. The stock has risen over the last three months following talk that descendants of co-founder John Nordstrom might buy the 70 percent of the company they don’t already own. Co-Presidents Blake, Peter and Erik Nordstrom are part of the group, as is Chairman Emeritus Bruce Nordstrom.

The stock gained $2.91 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $47.96.

IF THEY CAN MAKE IT THERE: Medicaid coverage provider Centene said it will expand into New York through a $3.75 billion acquisition of Fidelis Care. Its stock jumped $6.36, or 7 percent, to $97.24. Centene focuses most of its business on the state and federal Medicaid programs, but it has also expanded into several states over the past year through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges.

JILTED: Hard drive maker Western Digital slumped $3.70, or 4.2 percent, to $85.08 after its partner Toshiba said it will sell its computer memory business to a consortium led by Bain Capital Private Equity. Western Digital wants to buy that business and has filed a lawsuit to stop Toshiba from selling that business to anyone else. Toshiba has said it needs to sell the division to help offset losses by its Westinghouse Electric nuclear business, which filed for bankruptcy protection in March.

STAY ON TARGET: Target said it plans to hire 100,000 workers for the holidays. That’s 40 percent more than it hired a year ago. Its stock climbed $1.61, or 2.8 percent, to $59.50 and other retailers also advanced. Electronics seller Best Buy rose $1.60, or 2.8 percent, to $58.39 and clothing retailer Gap gained 63 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $28.24. Video game seller GameStop added 44 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $19.97 and Amazon.com rose $6.30 to $988.88.

APPLE: Apple fell $1.57, or 1 percent, to $159.29. Investors appeared worried about the high price tag of the tenth-anniversary iPhone X as well as its later sales date. The phone won’t be available until early November, which could affect Apple’s revenue in the next few quarters. The iPhone 8 will come out Sept. 22. Investors appeared to be pleased with some of Apple’s plans Tuesday, including new features that are being added to the Apple Watch, but the company’s stock took a small loss a day ago.

Several electronics companies that have been linked to Apple were also down. One was Power Integrations, which makes circuits used for power conversion. Its stock rallied this summer on reports it would be involved in the wireless charging station Apple will sell along with its new iPhones. Power Integrations lost $3.05, or 4.1 percent, to $70.85.

ENERGY: Energy futures rose after the government reported a smaller-than-expected increased in crude oil stockpiles and a bigger drop in gasoline inventories. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 77 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $49 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 64 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $54.91 a barrel in London. The prices of heating oil and natural gas also climbed.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.65 yen from 110.11 yen. The euro fell to $1.1884 from $1.1970.

BONDS: Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.18 percent from 2.17 percent.

OVERSEAS: The German DAX and CAC 40 in France both rose 0.2 percent. London’s FTSE 100 index declined 0.1 percent. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 0.3 percent and the Kospi in South Korea shed 0.2 percent.

MARLEY JAY

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