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U.S. stocks end with losses, despite gains by oil

The American flag flies above the Wall Street

The American flag flies above the Wall Street entrance to the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Photo Credit: AP

Technology and consumer-focused companies led a modest slide in U.S. stocks Thursday afternoon. Oil production and drilling companies bucked the trend, getting a lift from a sharp increase in crude oil prices. Trading got off to a downbeat start as investors reacted to a decision by the European Central Bank to leave its key interest rates unchanged and hold off on extending a stimulus program.

ON WALL STREET: In late afternoon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 46.2 points, about 0.3 percent, at nearly 18,480. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gave up 4.9 points, about 0.2 percent, to 2,181.3. The Nasdaq composite index lost 24.4 points, about 0.5 percent, to 5,259.5. The tech-heavy index set record highs on Tuesday and Wednesday.

OIL PRICES: Crude oil prices moved higher after a report indicating a big drop in fuel stockpiles. As markets closed, the price of benchmark U.S. crude was up $2.08 cents at $48.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, the price of Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up $1.75 at $49.73 a barrel.

RIDING OIL: Several oil drilling and production companies were up on the latest oil stockpiles figures, pushing the S&P 500’s energy sector 1.6 percent higher. The sector is up 17.3 percent this year.

NO ACTION: The European Central Bank decided to leave its key interest rates unchanged. It also said it would not extend the duration of its bond-buying stimulus program. At a news conference, ECB President Mario Draghi seemed relatively confident about the economy and less inclined to hint at more stimulus than some analysts had expected.

ANALYST’S OPINION: “If the ECB saw the world going to hell in a hand basket, they would have made a move [for additional stimulus],” said analyst Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. “But they don’t.”

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