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[NEW YORK] Energy shares fell their most in a month on Thursday as crude prices slid, leaving the S&P 500 little changed despite gains in Wal-Mart and other consumer stocks.
The Dow and S&P 500 earlier hit intraday highs, with Wal-Mart and Apple at record highs. Wal-Mart was up 4.2 per cent to US$82.50 after posting a 2.9 per cent increase in third-quarter revenue. It earlier hit a high of US$82.85.
Apple rose as high as US$113.45 to a fresh record while Microsoft, up 1.6 per cent at US$49.55, swelled to a market cap above US$407 billion and overtook Exxon Mobil as the second-largest publicly traded US company, behind Apple.
Exxon fell 1.1 per cent to US$94.39 as the largest weight on the S&P 500 energy sector, which fell 2.2 per cent. Brent crude fell under US$78 a barrel while US crude tumbled 3.8 per cent to US$74.27, both at their lowest in more than four years.
Despite the fall in energy prices, gains in consumer stocks were small. Discretionary items are expected to see more demand as lower gasoline costs free cash from consumers. "They should be and they will be," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York, about discretionary stocks going higher. "But while we're waiting for consumer stocks to rise, energy prices continue to be a headwind," he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.41 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 17,650.61, the S&P 500 lost 0.94 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 2,037.31 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.31 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 4,679.44.
JC Penney shares tumbled 7.7 per cent to US$7.16 the day after it reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss but said same-store sales were flat and slightly cut its full-year revenue forecast.
DreamWorks Animation shares jumped 10.9 per cent to US$24.81 after the New York Times said toymaker Hasbro Inc was in talks to buy the Hollywood studio. Hasbro shares lost 4 per cent to US$55.15.
US-traded BlackBerry shares jumped 8.5 per cent to US$12.23, the highest since June 2013, after it unveiled its new mobile-device management and security platform and struck wide-ranging partnerships.