US stocks fade late and finish mixed in quiet trading ahead of Thanksgiving; HP sinks

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NEW YORK — Stocks wobbled on Wednesday and finished little changed before the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.

The market was positive for most of the day, but its gains dissipated in the final minutes of trading. Last week the markets made their biggest weekly jump of 2015, but the indexes have hardly budged this week.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.20 points to 17,813.39, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.27 points to 2,088.87. The Nasdaq composite index picked up 13.33 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,116.14.

U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. They will reopen Friday but will close at 1 p.m. Eastern.

A rebound by drugmakers Pfizer and Allergan boosted the health care sector, while consumer stocks like e-commerce giant and home retailer Home Depot rose in the last trading day before Black Friday unofficially kicks off the holiday shopping period.

Pfizer rose 90 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $32.87 and Irish counterpart Allergan added $8.83, or 2.8 percent, to $320.26. On Monday the two drugmakers said they would combine in a deal valued at about $155 billion. Pfizer shares fell a combined 10 percent Monday and Tuesday, and Allergan shares also slipped after the deal was announced. However the stock is up 12 percent since late October, when the companies confirmed they were in talks.

Agricultural equipment maker Deere rose after its fiscal fourth-quarter results and projections for the current fiscal year were better than analysts expected. While sales of tractors and bulldozers and other machinery have dropped, Deere has slashed its costs. The stock rose $3.66, or 4.8 percent, to $80.

Hewlett-Packard reported earnings for the final time Tuesday night, weeks after the tech giant formally split into two separate companies. HP, which inherited the parent company's PC, printer and commercial software business, sank $2, or 13.7 percent, to $12.64 as its sales weakened. Hewlett Packard Enterprise gained 43 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $14.12. Sales of hardware for data centers, including servers and networking devices, improved.

Energy stocks, which surged Tuesday, gave back some of their gains even though the price of oil increased slightly. The U.S. government said crude oil stockpiles rose last week. They are at their highest levels in at least 80 years.

NRG Energy lost 44 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $12.18. ConocoPhillips fell 94 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $54.38.

The price of U.S. crude rose 17 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $43.04 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, picked up five cents to $46.17 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 0.6 cents to $1.396 a gallon. Heating oil inched up 0.3 cents to $1.403 a gallon. Natural gas rose 0.6 cents to $2.206 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending inched up 0.1 percent in October, the second small gain in a row. Despite weak spending in September and October, economists think spending will keep growing because the labor market is strong.

Spending on long-lasting manufactured goods improved in October after two months of declines. A measure of business investment improved by the biggest amount since July.

Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector research for Charles Schwab, said there were no big surprises in the economic reports. Most were a bit better than expected, and wages and compensation for workers appear to be rising.

"Both of those things play into the Fed being comfortable raising interest rates next month," he said. Most experts think the Federal Reserve will begin raising its key interest rate at its mid-December meeting. That rate has been near zero since 2008.

Sorensen said he thinks tech stocks will do well over the next few months as consumers continue to spend on electronics and businesses invest more in technology. He also thinks financial stocks, particularly large banks and regional banks, will score bigger profits because they'll be able to charge more money for loans.

Spam maker Hormel said it is planning a stock split that would double the number of shares on the market, which could boost demand for the stock. Its shares rose $2.23, or 3 percent, to $73.55. The stock gained 3 percent Tuesday after the company reported a strong fourth quarter and outlook, and it's been trading at all-time highs.

Metals prices slipped after making gains on Tuesday. Gold declined $3.80, or 0.4 percent, to $1,070 an ounce. Silver declined a fraction of a cent to $14.158 an ounce. Copper fell 0.9 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $2.046 a pound.

Bond prices ticked higher, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury inched down to 2.23 percent from 2.24 percent. The euro fell to $1.0617 from $1.0655 on Tuesday. The dollar rose to 122.72 yen from 122.44 yen.


Marley Jay can be reached at His work can be found at

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