U.S. stocks wobble as drug companies fall, energy rises

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are mixed in afternoon trading as drugmakers slip and energy companies continue to gain. Kroger and Costco are struggling after releasing weak earnings reports. Oil prices are down after a string of increases.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,885 as of 1:58 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose less than a point to 1,986. The Nasdaq composite lost six points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,697.

FEELING FEVERISH: Losses for big drug companies pulled health care stocks lower. Biogen lost $5.69, or 2.1 percent, to $267.97 and Merck fell 62 cents to $51.65. Botox maker Allergan lost $2.52 to $289.96.

OIL: The price of U.S. crude wavered between small gains and losses. It rose 19 cents to $34.85 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, added 34 cents to $37.27 a barrel in London. Energy stocks continued to rise after making big gains a day earlier.

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Still, energy stocks continued to rise. ConocoPhillips rose $1.68, or 4.6 percent, to $38.17 and Marathon Petroleum added $2.15, or 6.2 percent, to $36.86.

CHESAPEAKE SOARS: Chesapeake Energy continued to skyrocket after the company said it does not expect to be prosecuted or fined as part of a federal investigation into founder and former company head Aubrey McClendon, who left the company in 2013.

Early Wednesday, McClendon was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of rigging gas-lease bids. Later in the day officials announced that McClendon had died in a single-car crash in Oklahoma City.

The stock jumped 23 percent Wednesday and added another 89 cents, or 26.2 percent, to $4.29 Thursday. The stock tumbled 74 percent in 2015.

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LOGGING OFF: Big-name tech stocks also declined. Microsoft fell 70 cents to $52.25 and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, lost $7.40 to $732.08. Facebook dipped 59 cents to $109.36.

EARNINGS: Supermarket operator Kroger dropped $3.11, or 7.7 percent, to $37.54 after investors were disappointed with its quarterly sales and its forecasts. Warehouse club operator Costco lost $2.05 to $150.74 after its profit and sales came up short of Wall Street’s forecasts.

Mining equipment maker Joy Global climbed $2.37, or 17.8 percent, to $15.69 after its first-quarter sales were stronger than expected. 3D printer maker Stratasys rose $3.68, or 17.6 percent, to $24.57. The company’s fourth-quarter results were better than expected and it gave a strong forecast for 2016.

METALS: The prices of gold, silver, and copper each rose about 1 percent. Gold rose $16.40 to $1,258.20 an ounce and silver closed up 12 cents at $15.15 an ounce. Copper advanced 3 cents to $2.21 a pound. The price of gold has climbed almost 19 percent this year, and silver has risen about 10 percent.

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US ECONOMY: The Commerce Department said orders to U.S. factories grew 1.6 percent in January, the biggest gain in seven months. A category that measures business investment rose by the largest amount in 19 months.

OVERSEAS: Britain’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX each fell 0.3 percent. France’s CAC 40 declined 0.2 percent. Asian markets closed mostly higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.3 percent.

CHINA OUTLOOK: Chinese leaders were expected to lower their growth target during the upcoming gathering of the National People’s Congress this week as China seeks more flexibility for structural reforms for the slowing, state-dominated economy. The growth target due to be announced on Saturday is expected to be a range of 6.5 to 7 percent, down from 2015’s goal of about 7 percent.

CURRENCIES: Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 1.83 percent from 1.84 percent late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.0950 from $1.0868 and the dollar edged up to 113.52 yen from 113.45 yen.