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Stocks close mixed but near break-even

Traders George Baskinger, left, and Anthony Carannante work

Traders George Baskinger, left, and Anthony Carannante work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

After starting the day broadly lower, U.S. stocks recovered nearly all of their losses by midafternoon Thursday and closed near break-even. Investors remain focused on earnings. A batch of disappointing results from Procter & Gamble, Facebook and others weighed on the market. Investors are also looking over a report that showed the U.S. economy rebounded in the second quarter.

At the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 5.4 points, about 0.03 percent, at 17,746. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up less than a point at 2,108.6. The Nasdaq composite index gained 17.1 points, about 0.3 percent, to 5,128.8

As the markets closed, the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil was down 30 cents to $48.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

RECOVERY: The U.S. economy grew at a 2.3 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, rebounding from a harsh winter. Leading the growth was a surge in consumer spending, the backbone of the U.S. economy, and a recovery in foreign trade. While positive, the data looks at the U.S. economy three months ago and did little to boost stocks.

SOFT SOAP: Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble fell $3.23, or 4 percent, to close at $77.39. The maker of Tide detergent and Gillette razors reported softer sales than Wall Street analysts had expected. The company, like many others, has been negatively affected by the strong dollar, which makes U.S. products more expensive abroad.

OVERCHARGE COSTLY:/ Whole Foods closed down $4.74, about 11.6 percent, at $36.08. The company reported a sharp slowdown in sales growth last quarter, partially hurt by the recent news that some Whole Foods locations in New York City were overcharging customers.

HIGHER EXPENSES: Facebook lost $1.78, about 1.84 percent, to close at $95.21 after the company's results, while positive, included a sharp 82 percent jump in expenses as the company invested in growth. Facebook's stock hit an all-time high on July 21.

CALM OVERSEAS: European and Asian markets had another day of decreased volatility. Trading has been volatile in the last month, as China's stock market took several sharp falls and Greece forged a last-minute deal with its creditors to shore up its finances.


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