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US stocks wobble as energy companies rise, health care dips

Stocks are little changed Thursday morning as the market remains in the doldrums. Energy companies are rising as the price of oil continues a recent recovery and phone companies and health care stocks are trading lower.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 6 points to 18,568 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose less than 1 point to 2,182. The Nasdaq composite added 2 points to 5,230. Stocks have bobbed up and down for more than a week and they finished a bit higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its late July meeting. Stocks made small gains as investors felt the Fed is in no hurry to raise interest rates again.

JOBS: The federal government said fewer people filed for unemployment benefits last week. A total of 262,000 new applications were filed. Applications for jobless benefits have remained below 300,000 per week for almost a year and a half, the longest streak since 1970. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, which have remained low as hiring has grown. The number of people receiving benefits is around 2.18 million, down 4 percent over the last year.

RISING RETAILER: Wal-Mart Stores climbed $1.08, or 1.5 percent, to $74. The world’s largest retailer raised its annual estimates after reporting strong results for the second quarter. The company is revamping stores and has won back some customers. Wal-Mart has been boosting pay for its employees, and it says that makes for happier employees and customers who get better service. Wal-Mart, which has lost sales to sites like Amazon as people make more purchases online, is also buying online retailer Jet.com for $3 billion as it fights for more online shoppers.

CISCO CUTS: Internet gear maker Cisco Systems reported unimpressive quarterly results and said it will lay off 5,500 employees, or about 7 percent of its staff. Its customers have been switching to remote data centers for computing instead of maintaining networks on their premises, so Cisco is focusing on equipment for big data centers and software and security. The company had already cut about 10,000 jobs over the last few years and it joins companies like Microsoft, Intel and HP in eliminating jobs and overhauling its product lines.

The stock lost 52 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $30.20. It slipped 1.3 percent Wednesday on reports it might make much bigger cuts.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 78 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $47.57 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 40 cents to $40.25 a barrel in London. That gave energy companies a lift, and Marathon Oil rose 48 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $16.18 while Devon Energy gained 85 cents, or 2 percent, to $44.16.

NETAPP LEAPS: Data storage company NetApp posted stronger results than analysts expected, aided by cost cuts. The company’s stock surged $4.06, or 14.1 percent, to $32.92.

NO SECRET: L Brands, the parent of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, climbed after its results were better than expected and it raised its projections for the year. The stock rose $1.92, or 2.6 percent, to $75.98.

SUNNY DAY: SunEdison Semiconductor, which makes silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry, agreed to be bought by GlobalWafers of Taiwan. The deal values SunEdison Semiconductor at $12 per share, or about $508 million. Its stock soared $3.29, or 39.7 percent, to $11.57.

BONDS, CURRENCY: Bond yields rose and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 1.54 percent from 1.55 percent. The dollar inched up to 100.26 yen from 100.19 yen. The euro rose to $1.1316 from $1.1290.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 index rose 0.1 percent and Germany’s DAX added 0.3 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was little changed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1 percent and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 slid 1.5 percent. The Kospi in South Korea added 0.9 percent.

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