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US stock indexes edge lower in afternoon trading; oil slides

A slide in telecom services, consumer staples and utilities companies helped drag U.S. stock indexes slightly lower in afternoon trading Thursday. The decline came as investors weighed the latest batch of company earnings. Oil prices were also headed lower.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 49 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,046 as of 12:18 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid five points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,097. The Nasdaq composite index lost two points to 4,946. The stock market is coming off a three-day winning streak.

THE QUOTE: Investors are mostly focused on company earnings. Many have come in ahead of Wall Street’s expectations, but those forecasts were low to begin with, said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade’s chief strategist.

“We’re still seeing a lot of companies struggling to meet that top line of revenue, and that’s the bigger story,” Kinahan said.

BROKEN TOYS: Mattel fell 6.2 percent after the toy maker reported a larger-than-anticipated quarterly loss and disappointing sales of Barbie dolls. The stock shed $2.04 to $31.

LOYALTY WANES: Alliance Data Systems, which manages loyalty and rewards programs for retailers and other companies, slumped 7.8 percent after the company issued a disappointing outlook for the current quarter. The stock lost $16.92 at $201.

BETS ARE OFF: Casino operator Las Vegas Sands sank 11.1 percent after the company’s latest quarterly results fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The stock shed $5.79 to $46.39.

TURBULENCE: United Continental tumbled 11.6 percent a day after the airline operator reported a steep drop in quarterly earnings as higher taxes offset some of the gains from cheaper jet fuel. Revenue also fell partly due to a slump in business travel. The stock slid $6.78 to $51.82.

BUFF RESULTS: Under Armour surged 6.9 percent after the athletic apparel company reported strong quarterly sales. It also increased its outlook for the year. The stock climbed $3.05 to $47.

NICE DRIVE: General Motors rose 1.6 percent after the automaker said its profit more than doubled, thanks partly to strong demand in North America. The stock gained 52 cents to $32.71.

STRONG QUARTER: Citrix Systems climbed 4.5 percent a day after the company reported earnings that topped Wall Street expectations. The stock added $3.66 to $84.18.

OVERSEAS MARKETS: German’s DAX was up 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was down 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 ended 2.7 percent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.8 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.1 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.8 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil was down 29 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $43.89 a barrel in New York after. Brent crude, the international standard, was down 45 cents, or 1 percent, at $45.35 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.88 percent from 1.84 percent late Wednesday. In currency markets, the dollar slipped to 109.40 yen from 109.80 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1304 from $1.1302.

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