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Stocks retreat as media and energy sectors slump

Trader Thomas McCauley works on the floor of

Trader Thomas McCauley works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Stocks retreated Thursday as investors looked warily at media companies, like Disney, which reported subscriber losses for ESPN. Sliding oil prices pulled stocks in energy companies lower.

At the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 120.7 points, about 0.7 percent, at 17,419.8. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 16.3 points, about 0.8 percent, to 2,083.6, and the Nasdaq composite lost 83.5 points, about 1.6 percent, to 5,056.4.

CRUDE ENERGY: As markets closed, the price of benchmark U.S. crude oil dipped 34 cents to $45.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

CUTTING THE CORD. Further cracks emerged this week in the pay TV bundle as media companies and distributors indicated that more people are cutting the cord and ditching pricey channel packages. Disney's stock tumbled 9 percent Wednesday, and closed down $1.98, about 1.8 percent, at $108.55 after reporting Tuesday that it was trimming its forecast for TV subscriber-fee profit growth through next year because of subscriber losses at its flagship ESPN sports network. Other channel operators also saw shares drop, including Viacom and Time Warner. Dish said its satellite TV subscriber losses accelerated in the quarter through June, falling 81,000 to 13.9 million, nearly double the loss of 44,000 a year ago. Thursday, it closed down 34 cents, about 0.5 percent, at $67.88.

MEAGER, MEH: With the bulk of big companies already handing in results, analysts project that second-quarter earnings at big U.S. companies edged up 0.2 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ. Though meager, it's much better than the 4 percent drop analysts had forecast a month ago.

LONDON CALLING: The British pound fell sharply after the Bank of England voted to keep its key interest rate at a record low. Only one out of eight people on its policy committee voted for an increase, a smaller-than-expected minority that suggests the bank may take longer to start raising rates. That's likely to weigh on a currency but help stocks. The pound was down 0.7 percent against the dollar, at $1.5486.

JOBS: Investors are looking ahead to the Labor Department's monthly jobs report on Friday. Economists forecast the government report will show employers added 225,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate held at 5.3 percent for the second straight month. That level of job creation would likely cement expectations for the Federal Reserve to raise the benchmark interest rate later this year.

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