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Stocks give up an early gain on Wall Street and head lower

Stocks are edging lower in early afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday, giving up an early gain and putting the market on track for its third loss in a row. Utilities and consumer stocks fell the most. Energy companies continued to buck the downward trend and notched small gains as the price of crude oil edged higher. Investors are looking ahead to Friday’s closely watched jobs report.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,627 as of 1:35 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost four points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,046 and the Nasdaq composite gave up 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,710.

EARNINGS MISSES: A number of companies fell after releasing earnings and forecasts that didn’t impress investors. Electric car maker Tesla sank $9.26, or 4 percent, to $213.34 after reporting a much wider loss than Wall Street analysts were expecting. The company had parts delays for its new Model X SUV.

Cereal maker Kellogg sank $1.48, or 2 percent, to $75.54 after reporting declines in both sales and earnings in the first quarter. SeaWorld sank $1.17, or 6 percent, to $18.30 after reporting a wider first-quarter loss as expenses climbed.

EARNINGS BEATS: Several stocks were moving higher after reporting better results than analysts were expecting. Media company Discovery Communications, whose cable channels include Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, rose $1.36, or 5 percent, to $27.95. Insurer Allstate added $2.10, or 3 percent, to $67.36.

U.S. ECONOMY: As the week comes to a close, the market’s focus is turning to the U.S. jobs report for April due out Friday. Investors will be watching closely to see if it could have any impact on the Federal Reserve’s plans for raising interest rates at its next policy meeting in June. Economists expect the report to show jobs grew by 200,000 last month while the unemployment rate stayed at 5 percent.

A private sector jobs report released by ADP on Wednesday showed that private employers created only 156,000 jobs last month, which was significantly below economists’ estimates.

ENERGY: Crude oil prices gave up much of an early gain driven by concerns that production could be impacted by a massive fire that swept through the Canadian oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Benchmark U.S. crude oil was up 20 cents at $43.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 50 cents at $46.68 a barrel in London.

STILL LEADING: Despite the broad downturn in the market, oil companies were still slightly higher. Apache rose 5 percent and Newfield Exploration added 4 percent. Energy and health care were the only two of the 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 index that were higher in early afternoon trading.

BONDS and CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose, sending yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.75 percent from 1.78 percent a day earlier. The euro fell to $1.1402 from $1.1498 and the dollar rose to 107.28 yen from 106.93 yen.

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