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Stocks slip as energy shares take a beating

A trader works on the floor of the

A trader works on the floor of the stock exchange June 24, 2015 on Wall Street. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Stocks fell Thursday afternoon pulling the Standard & Poor's 500 index below its average price for the past 50 days, as a drop in energy shares overshadowed a rally in health care and investors watched for a breakthrough in Greek debt talks that appeared to be stretching into the weekend.

At the close on Wall Street, the S&P 500 was down 6.3 points, about 0.3 percent, to 2,102.3. The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 75.7 points, about 0.4 percent, to 17,890.4. The Nasdaq composite lost 10.2 points, about 0.2 percent, to 5,112.2.

OIL PRICE. As markets closed, the price of an Aug. 15 contract for U.S. benchmark crude oil was down 64 cents at $59.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The barrel price fell as a decline in U.S. crude inventories countered near-record production levels, depressing price volatility to the lowest in more than seven months. While crude stockpiles dropped for an eighth week, output increased to 9.6 million barrels a day through June 19, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported.

S&P IN HOLDING PATTERN. The S&P 500 is headed for a ninth week without a move of more than 1 percent, the longest streak since August 1993, churning in a tight range as investors await a resolution to the Greek crisis while assessing data for clues on the timing of any Federal Reserve interest-rate increase.

French President Francois Hollande held out the prospect of a deal for Greece even as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said negotiations looked to be going backward.

A QUOTE. "The daily movements right now continue to be relative to any positive or negative news related to the Greek talks," said Joe Bell, a Cincinnati-based senior equity analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research Inc. "I'm not sure anybody knows the financial impact, but I'd guess it's priced in to some extent. There's just uncertainty on what that means."

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