Specialist Peter Mazza, center, works with traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Stocks are opening mostly lower on Wall Street led by declines in utilities and real estate companies. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

US stock indexes mostly higher in morning trading; oil rises

March 29, 2017 - 11:30 am

Energy companies led U.S. stock indexes mostly higher in morning trading Wednesday as crude oil prices rose. Utilities stocks fell the most. Financial companies also declined as bond yields fell. Investors had their eye on the latest company earnings and outlooks.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,360 as of 11:20 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,660. The Nasdaq composite index gained 13 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,888. The Dow has fallen for eight of the last nine days. Two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

THE QUOTE: "It's sort of a yawn today in the market," said Jeff Zipper, managing director at the Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank. "It's really a wait-and-see with the focus back on Washington and tax reform."

EYES ON TRUMP: Investors are hoping that Congress and the White House will enact tax cuts and other business-friendly policy proposals promised by President Donald Trump during his campaign. The expectations helped lift the market in the weeks after the election last November. But some of that investor optimism dimmed in recent weeks after the Trump administration's bid to pass a bill intended to begin repealing the Affordable Care Act failed to win enough votes.

WELL BUILT: RH, formerly Restoration Hardware, climbed 11.3 percent a day after the home furnishings and decor retailer reported stronger earnings. It added $4.29 to $42.29.

DEAL TIME: Exar surged 22.5 percent after MaxLinear agreed to buy the chipmaker for $13 per share, or $662 million. Shares in Exar gained $2.39 to $13.01. MaxLinear rose 99 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $27.50.

STRONG QUARTER: Verint Systems jumped 9.1 percent after the software company reported better-than-expected quarterly results. Verint also said during a management conference call with analysts that it is possible that at some point it will split itself into two businesses, but noted it has no plans now to do that. Verint shares rose $3.60 to $43.15.

BAD MEDICINE: Depomed slid 4.8 percent after the drugmaker issued disappointing first-quarter sales guidance and replaced its CEO and two board members to resolve a dispute with investment firm Starboard Value. The stock dipped 68 cents to $13.55.

NO FUN: Dave & Buster's Entertainment fell 2.6 percent after the arcade and restaurant chain announced disappointing sales at older locations. The stock gave up $1.60 to $60.59.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX climbed 0.4 percent, while France's CAC 40 added 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent as Britain triggered the start of its exit from the European Union, a formal step that kicks off two years of negotiations that will have wide-ranging consequences for business in the region. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged up 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to 5,873.50.

CURRENCIES. The dollar strengthened to 110.97 yen from 111.09 yen. The euro fell to $1.0755 from $1.0808.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures rose 64 cents to $49.01 a barrel in New York. The contract rose 64 cents on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 76 cents to $52.18 a barrel in London.

TREASURY YIELDS: Bond prices edged higher. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.38 percent from 2.42 percent.

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