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US companies waver ahead of Fed meeting; tech stocks plunge

U.S. stocks are little changed Wednesday afternoon as investors wait for the Federal Reserve to conclude its April meeting. Technology companies are sliding following weak results from Apple and Twitter. Energy companies are rising with oil prices, and utility and telecommunications companies are moving higher as bond yields fall.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 9 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,999 as of 1:31 p.m. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,087. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 49 points, or 1 percent, to 4,838.

TECH TROUNCED: Apple fell $6.67, or 6.4 percent, to $97.68 after reporting its first decline in iPhone sales. Apple also reported its first decline in quarterly revenue since 2003 and forecast similar results in the current quarter. Twitter dropped $2.73, or 15.4 percent, to $15.02. The company’s first-quarter revenue fell short of expectations and its guidance disappointed investors.

OIL PRICES: The price of crude oil has wavered throughout the day. Early on it reached its highest price in almost six months. It briefly turned lower, but in afternoon trading benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 70 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $44.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 91 cents, or 2 percent, to $46.65 a barrel in London.

Anadarko Petroleum added $2.19, or 4.2 percent, to $54.55 and Diamond Offshore Drilling gained 73 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $24.38.

CENTRAL BANKS: The Federal Reserve will wrap up a meeting Wednesday afternoon. It’s not expected to raise interest rates, but investors will be interested in the Fed’s views on the U.S. and global economies and if there’s any indication that borrowing costs may rise in June. The Bank of Japan could announce a new stimulus package on Thursday.

TAKE HEART: Medical device maker Boston Scientific climbed $2.18, or 11.1 percent, to $21.87 after it swung to a profit in the first quarter, and earnings and sales were better than expected. It also raised its projections for the year.

OUT TO LUNCH: Buffalo Wild Wings tumbled $17.04, or 11.8 percent, to $127.58 after the chain’s sales fell short of analyst projections. Chipotle Mexican Grill fell $24.36, or 5.5 percent, to $421.56. Chipotle posted its first loss as a public company as sales plunged following an E. coli outbreak and Norovirus scare.

POWER PLAY: Telecommunications and utility companies rose as bond prices rose, bringing their yields lower. That made the stocks more appealing to investors seeking income. Verizon Communications gained 89 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $51.33. NRG Energy added 29 cents, or 2 percent, to $14.84.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.89 percent from 1.93 percent.

EBAY EXCITEMENT: E-commerce company eBay’s profit and sales were greater than expected, and it gave solid projections for the current quarter. The stock rose 78 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $25.27.

TAKEOFF: Aerospace giant Boeing helped pull the Dow higher. The company reported mixed first-quarter results, with weaker-than-expected earnings but strong sales. The stock rose $3.46, or 2.6 percent, to $136.70.

DREAMING OF A DEAL: DreamWorks Animation rocketed $4.66, or 17.2 percent, to $31.78 on reports the company behind the “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” franchises might be acquired by Comcast. Comcast stock rose 29 cents to $61.34.

HALF IS CUT: Staffing company Robert Half International posted solid results, but its stock tumbled after saying revenue growth for some of its business slowed down over the last few months. The stock declined $6, or 13.4 percent, to $38.60.

OFF ROAD: Trucking company C.H. Robinson Worldwide slid $4.76, or 6.3 percent, to $70.95 after its first-quarter revenue fell far short of expectations.

FLAGS FLYING: Amusement park operator Six Flags Entertainment jumped after it reported far more revenue than analysts expected. The company said attendance climbed 37 percent in the first quarter. Its stock advanced $2.62, or 4.5 percent, to $61.27.

ANTHEM OFF-KEY: Anthem, the second-largest U.S. health insurance company, reported strong results for the first quarter, but gave back some of its recent gains. It fell $3.36, or 2.3 percent, to $143.71. The stock is up more than 20 percent since early February.

YAHOO TURNS TO STARBOARD: Struggling Internet company Yahoo will add four directors backed by activist investment firm Starboard Value to its board. That ends a potential proxy fight between Yahoo and Starboard. The new directors include Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith. Two current Yahoo directors won’t run for new terms. Yahoo stock lost 35 cents to $36.76.

OVERSEAS: The CAC-40 in France finished 0.6 percent higher, and the Britain’s FTSE 100 was also up 0.6 percent. Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 0.4 percent lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.32 yen from 111.41 yen. The euro rose to $1.1334 from $1.1291.


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