Trader Peter Costa, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. U.S. stock indexes are mostly lower Wednesday morning following weak first-quarter reports from consumer-focused companies including Priceline and Disney. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

US stocks rise as energy companies rally with oil prices

May 10, 2017 - 3:17 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are higher Wednesday afternoon as energy companies are rallying with the price of oil and technology companies move higher. Consumer-focused companies are down following weak first-quarter reports from Priceline and Disney and health care companies are slipping.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,399 as of 3:10 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,934 as Disney and Boeing slumped. The Nasdaq composite rose 9 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,130 and was on pace for another record close. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks was up 8 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,400.

OIL: Oil prices made big gains as reported showed U.S. crude stockpiles shrank again last week. That encouraged investors. Crude oil prices have fallen in recent weeks as investors wondered if the members of OPEC and other key oil-producing countries will be able to limit production and support prices.

Benchmark U.S. crude surged $1.45, or 3.2 percent, to $47.33 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, gained $1.49, or 3.1 percent, to $50.22 a barrel in London. That sent energy companies higher, as EOG Resources picked up $3.08, or 3.4 percent, to $94.72 and Chevron added $1.43, or 1.4 percent, to $106.51.

Crude has wobbled between around $45 and $55 a barrel this year as investors worried about oil prices and profits at energy companies. The S&P 500's energy sector has dropped 10 percent in 2017.

THE QUOTE: Investors didn't react much to President Donald Trump's surprise decision to fire FBI Director James Comey Tuesday evening. U.S. stocks also had little reaction to the French presidential election last weekend, although European indexes surged on the win for a centrist candidate.

"It's almost as if the market has become numb," said Julian Emanuel, an equity strategist for UBS. "Investors are interpreting this as more noise."

Emanuel said investors are waiting for signs about economic growth and success of the Trump administration's business-friendly agenda. Until then, they may just wait and see, in which case stocks will stay in the range they've traded in for the last few months.

TECH EARNINGS: Video game maker Electronic Arts and chipmaker Nvidia both reported stronger results than analysts had expected. Electronic Arts, which makes games including "The Sims" and "Mass Effect," rose $12.98, or 13.5 percent, to $108.99 and Nvidia advanced $17.50, or 17 percent, to $120.44. Nvidia tripled in value in 2016 and had wobbled early this year.

Emanuel, of UBS, said investors are rewarding companies that are reporting strong earnings growth but don't depend too much on faster economic growth. That includes technology companies and banks.

MOUSE MISS: Entertainment giant Walt Disney posted lower sales than investors expected and it said profit at its cable networks declined because of programming costs at ESPN remain high. Its stock fell $2.64, or 2.4 percent, to $109.43. Recently Disney stock suffered a five-day losing streak partly brought on by concerns about cable advertising revenue.

OUT OF LINE: Revenue for online booking service Priceline was a bit lower than analysts expected and the company's profit forecast for the current quarter was also disappointing. That sent the stock down $94.57, or 4.9 percent, to $1,816.56. Priceline has soared 44 percent over the last 12 months.

YIPES, YELP: Online review website Yelp plunged after it slashed its revenue forecast for the year. That followed a disappointing first-quarter report, and analysts said the company struggled to retain customers. The stock sank $6.49, or 18.7 percent, to $28.21 to reach its lowest price in almost a year.

WATCH OUT: Watchmaker Fossil tumbled after another weaker-than-expected quarterly report. The company said sales of traditional watches and other jewelry continued to fall. Fossil stock traded above $100 a share as recently as December 2014 is now trading at eight-year lows as it lost $4.10, or 22.6 percent, to $14.05.

HEALTH CARE: Botox maker Allergan is on track for its biggest loss in 2017 as its stock fell for the fourth day in a row. It's down $8.26, or 3.5 percent, to $230.25. Elsewhere biotechnology company Amgen lost $2.93, or 1.8 percent, to $160.29 and Biogen shed $2.73, or 1 percent, to $258.55.

BONDS: Bond prices rose early but later returned that gain. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.41 percent.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to $1.54 a gallon. Heating oil added 3 cents to $1.48 a gallon. Natural gas climbed 7 cents to $3.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold inched up $2.80 to settle at $1,218.90 an ounce. Silver rose 14 cents to $16.21 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $2.49 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 114.33 yen from 114.28 yen. The euro dipped to $1.0862 from $1.0869.

OVERSEAS: In Britain, the FTSE 100 jumped 0.6 percent. Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent and the CAC 40 in France finished unchanged. The Japanese Nikkei 225 gained 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.5 percent. The Kospi of South Korea fell 1 percent.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay

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