Europe stim­u­lus hold lulls stocks


NEW YORK — U.S. stock in­dexes es­sen­tially hit the snooze bar Thurs­day as in­vestors were re­lieved the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank didn’t an­nounce any changes to its stim­u­lus poli­cies.

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex slipped at the fin­ish and lost 0.38 point to 2,473.45. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age fell 28.97 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 21,611.78. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite rose 4.96 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to a record high of 6,390. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller com­pa­nies gained 0.58 points to 1,442.35, also a record.

Europe’s cen­tral bank main­tained its cur­rent poli­cies and the bank pres­i­dent, Mario Draghi, said the bank hasn’t even set a date for con­sid­er­ing changes. In­vestors were star­tled a month ago when he spoke about scal­ing back the stim­u­lus pro­gram.

On an up-and-down day of trad­ing, sec­ond-quar­ter re­sults moved other stocks: health care com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Ab­bott Laboratories climbed and paint, truck­ing and rail­road com­pa­nies fell.

Sears an­nounced an on­line ap­pli­ance sales pact with Ama­, and ap­pli­ance mak­ers and home-im­prove­ment stores dropped. But over­all the mar­ket hardly budged. While stocks have been set­ting record highs for most of 2017, in­clud­ing Wed­nes­day, the mar­ket is hav­ing its qui­etest year in decades.

The S&P 500 has had only four moves of 1 per­cent or greater this year. In a typ­i­cal year that hap­pens more than 50 times.

“There’s the be­lief that the Fed and the [Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank] are back­stop­ping mar­kets and if some­thing bad were to hap­pen, they would in­crease ac­com­mo­da­tion,” said Brent Schutte, chief in­vest­ment strate­gist at North­west­ern Mu­tual Wealth Man­age­ment. “If you throw a bunch of money at a prob­lem, typ­i­cally risk moves lower and people feel more con­fi­dence.”

Ab­bott Laboratories, which makes in­fant for­mula, drugs and med­i­cal de­vices, gained $1.42, or 2.9 per­cent, to $50.85 af­ter re­port­ing re­sults that were better than ex­pected. Health care prod­ucts giant John­son & John­son rose $1.36, or 1 per­cent, to $136.57 and drug­maker Ab­bVie, which split from Ab­bott in 2013, rose $1.24, or 1.7 per­cent, to $74.01.

Paint and coat­ings maker PPG In­dus­tries fell af­ter it re­ported weaker-than-ex­pected sales. PPG said higher raw ma­te­ri­als costs hurt its re­sults, and so did un­fa­vor­able for­eign cur­rency ex­change rates. Its shares gave up $6.88, or 6.1 per­cent, to $106.72.

Com­peti­tor Sher­win-Wil­liams had a weak sec­ond quar­ter. It also pointed to ris­ing costs as well as lower ex­te­rior paint sales. The stock lost $8.94, or 2.5 per­cent, to $350.78.

Sears said it will be­gin sell­ing Ken­more ap­pli­ances on Ama­, in­clud­ing smart ap­pli­ances that can be synced with Ama­zon’s voice as­sis­tant Alexa. The owner of the Sears and Kmart chains has closed large num­bers of stores in re­cent years and said in March that it might not be able to stay in busi­ness. Its stock jumped 92 cents, or 10.6 per­cent, to $9.60. Even with Thurs­day’s climb, Sears stock is down 36 per­cent over the past year.

Ama­zon shares edged up $1.83 to $1,028.70.

Bench­mark U.S. crude lost 33 cents to $46.79 a bar­rel in New York and Brent crude, the stan­dard for in­ter­na­tional oil prices, sank 40 cents to $49.30 a bar­rel in Lon­don.

Bond prices moved higher. The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note fell to 2.26 per­cent from 2.27 per­cent. High­div­i­dend stocks like util­i­ties climbed, as re­duced bond yields make those stocks more ap­peal­ing to in­vestors who want in­come.

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