US stocks edge higher as retailers rally; oil companies fall

FILE - This Monday, July 6, 2015, file photo shows a sign for Wall Street carved into the side of a building in New York. U.S. stocks are rising early Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, as retailers Urban Outfitters and Target climb. That’s helping retailers recover some of the sharp losses they took a day earlier. Health care companies and banks are also trading higher. Energy companies are lagging the rest of the market. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are slightly higher Wednesday as Urban Outfitters and Target climb. That’s helping many retailers recover some of the sharp losses they took a day earlier. Technology companies are rising as well, but energy companies are falling as the price of oil turns lower.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,468 as of 3 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,033. It rose 86 points earlier. The Nasdaq composite gained 13 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,346. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies advanced 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,385.

Stocks gave up most of their earlier gains after a group of CEOs, including the heads of 3M and Campbell Soup, said they were leaving a manufacturing jobs group over comments about racism made by President Donald Trump. Trump then tweeted that he is ending that council as well as a strategy and policy group. The furor could create more obstacles for Trump’s pro-business agenda of tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

FLYING OFF THE RACK: Clothing and accessories retailer Urban Outfitters had a better second quarter than Wall Street expected, and analysts said there are some signs the company’s business is recovering after years of struggles. The stock rose $2.82, or 16.8 percent, to $19.65. Even with those gains, it’s down 30 percent this year and recently traded at eight-year lows, far below its price of $40 a share in mid-2015.

Target also gained $2.26, or 4.2 percent, to $56.61. The company raised its annual estimates after it did better than analysts expected in the second quarter.

RETAIL RALLY: Gap climbed 52 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $22.60. Express added 23 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $5.80. Retailers had struggled a day earlier after poor results and lower forecasts from Dick’s Sporting Goods and Advance Auto Parts. The S&P 500 index of retailers climbed 2 percent Wednesday after a 2.3 percent plunge the day before.

THE QUOTE: “The market is trying to figure out who the winners and losers are going to be,” said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist for TD Ameritrade. That means turbulence for retailers is only going to rise as online competition grows and customers want more features like same-day delivery. With Wal-Mart and the Gap about to make their quarterly reports, investors could change their minds again on Thursday.

“This sector is not for the faint of heart,” Kinahan said.

FED MINUTES: The minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting last month did not include many details about the central bank’s plans for letting its balance sheet shrink. The notes showed a divided Fed, as some members of its policy committee think that interest rates should stay about where they are because inflation is still low. But others felt that interest rates should be raised because delays might lead to dangerously high inflation later.

However officials unanimously agreed to leave the interest rates unchanged.

BONDS: Bond prices turned higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.22 percent from 2.27 percent. With bond yields and interest rates falling, banks and financial companies turned lower as well. Regions Financial sank 13 cents to $14.35. Lincoln National fell $1.05, or 1.5 percent, to $71.12 and Bank of America gave up 32 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $24.15.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 77 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $46.78 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 53 cents, or 1 percent, to $50.27 a barrel in London. That pulled energy companies down further. EOG Resources fell $1.92, or 2.2 percent, to $85.11 and Marathon Oil fell 31 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $11.22.

Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $1.56 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.57 a gallon. Natural gas shed 5 cents to $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet.

LEADERS: Companies that make and sell household goods also traded higher. Costco Wholesale gained $2.85, or 1.8 percent, to $159.23 and spice maker McCormick rose $1.55, or 1.6 percent, to $98.30.

METALS: Gold rose $3.20 to $1,282.90 an ounce. Silver climbed 23 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $16.94. Copper jumped 6 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $2.95 a pound.

CURRENCY: After an early gain, the dollar dipped to 110.55 yen from 110.58 yen. The euro rebounded to $1.1734.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 rose 0.7 percent, and Germany’s DAX and the FTSE i100 in Britain rose by the same amount. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 retreated 0.1 percent while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.9 percent. The South Korean Kospi advanced 0.6 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