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US stocks waver between small gains and losses at midday

The stock market is closing out a solid quarter with a day of mixed trading on Wall Street Friday. Major indexes were moving in a small range, with the Dow Jones industrials posting a small loss while other indexes were mostly higher. Investors weighed several corporate deals and new economic data on consumer spending and inflation. Energy stocks were down the most as the price of crude oil headed lower. Utilities led the gainers.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average slid 40 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,687 as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was little changed at 2,368. The Nasdaq composite index gained 4 points to 5,918. The index hit an all-time high on Thursday. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,385. Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

QUARTER’S END: As the market closes in on the final trading hours of the first quarter, the S&P 500 is on track for its best quarter since the end of 2015, while the Nasdaq is on course for its best quarterly showing since the end of 2013. The Dow isn’t doing as well as it did in the final quarter of 2016. And the Russell 2000 is on pace for its fourth quarterly gain in a row.

U.S. ECONOMY: The Commerce Department said consumer spending kept rising in February, though gains the last two months have been slow. Meanwhile, an inflation gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve increased 2.1 percent in February compared to a year ago, a five-year high.

DASHED EXPECTATIONS: NantHealth slumped 10 percent after the health care information technology company reported disappointing fourth-quarter revenue. The stock shed 51 cents to $4.58.

ENERGY SLUMP: Several energy companies were down as oil prices headed lower. Exxon Mobil slid $1.65, or 2 percent, to $82.05. Hess fell 72 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $48.26.

STRONG QUARTER: DXP Enterprises jumped 13.8 percent after the industrial products company reported a profit and better-than-expected sales in the fourth quarter. The stock added $4.52 to $37.26.

DIALED IN: BlackBerry surged 13.7 percent after the company delivered a surprise fourth-quarter profit. Its shares picked up $1.27 to $10.54.

ACQUISITION AGREEMENT: TRC vaulted 45.6 percent after the engineering and consulting services company agreed to be bought by a unit of the investment firm New Mountain Capital for $17.55 a share, or $365.5 million. The stock climbed $5.45 to $17.40.

DOUBLE DEAL: FMC has agreed to buy part of DuPont’s crop protection business, while DuPont has agreed to buy FMC’s health and nutrition unit. FMC will get $1.6 billion, mostly in cash. Antitrust regulators in Europe wanted DuPont to make the sale as part of its combination with competitor Dow Chemical. Shares in FMC jumped $8.83, or 14.4 percent, to $70.33. DuPont shares fell 65 cents to $80.99.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.4 percent. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng each fell 0.8 percent. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 declined 0.5 percent. Seoul’s Kospi fell 0.2 percent. India’s Sensex gave up 0.2 percent, while Taiwan and New Zealand rose.

TREASURY YIELDS: Bond prices edged higher. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.41 percent from 2.42 percent late Thursday.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 15 cents to $50.20 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 6 cents to $53.07.

CURRENCIES: The euro weakened to $1.0690 from $1.0691 on Thursday. The dollar fell to 111.49 yen from 111.60 yen.


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