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Stocks wander as investors evaluate earnings reports

A man walks past an electronic stock indicator

A man walks past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo on Thursday, July 28, 2016. World stock benchmarks were uneven Thursday as investors digested an upbeat Fed assessment of the U.S. economy that raised the prospect of further rate hikes, while anticipating more stimulus from Japan. Photo Credit: AP / Shizuo Kambayashi

Stocks continued to search for direction Thursday as investors worked through another batch of mixed company earnings, including results from Facebook, Ford and Whole Foods.

Investors are looking ahead to a meeting Friday of the Bank of Japan, which is expected to result in an announcement of more stimulus for the world’s third-largest economy.

ON WALL STREET: In late afternoon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 13.5 points, about 0.07 percent, at 18,458.7. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 3.3 points, about 0.2 percent, at 2,169.9, and the Nasdaq composite added 12.5 points, about 0.2 percent, to 5,152.3.

OIL PRICES: In late afternoon, benchmark U.S. crude fell 73 cents to close at $41.19 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 79 cents to $42.68 a barrel.

LIKE: Facebook shares rose $1.42, or 1.1 percent, to $124.75. The social networking company reported earnings that more than doubled from a year earlier, topping analysts’ views, as well as a 15 percent rise in monthly users. However the shares had been much higher earlier in the session. Investors will get results from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Amazon after the market close Thursday.

JAPAN IN FOCUS: Investors are now hoping for new stimulus efforts from the Bank of Japan, which is expected to vote Friday on expanding monetary policy measures aimed at reviving sputtering growth in Asia’s second-biggest economy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced 28 trillion yen ($266 billion) in extra government spending to jump-start growth, but details are uncertain.

FED WATCH: Bond prices fell slightly, after jumping a day earlier after the decision by the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates steady. Investors are now looking to the September meeting. Securities that allow investors to bet on which way the Fed will move rates show a 25 percent chance that the Fed will increase rates at that meeting.

“We think September has a good chance of a rate hike, and this week’s announcement confirmed that,” said Kristina Hooper, head of U.S. investment strategies at Allianz Global Investors.

Hooper added that there are some investors who believe the Fed will not raise rates so close to a presidential election, but she does not see it as a major factor.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note was 1.51 percent, up from 1.50 percent the day before.

NOT SO ORGANIC: Whole Foods Market fell $3.22, or 9.5 percent, to $30.43 after the high-end supermarket chain reported that sales declined in the quarter, as the company faces more competition from other supermarkets who have been increasing their organic produce options.

HAVEN’T DRIVEN ONE LATELY: Ford lost $1.32, or 10 percent, to $12.52 after the company reported a 9 percent drop in profits as sales slowed in the U.S. and struggled in China. The company warned that its full-year guidance might need to be cut.

TECH DEAL: NetSuite jumped $16.62, or 18 percent, to $108.19 after computer software giant Oracle announced it was buying the company for $9.3 billion. NetSuite and Oracle both specialize in high-end software, but NetSuite specializes more in cloud computing while Oracle is heavy on mainframe database software.

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