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U.S. stocks traded mixed as crude tried to bounce back from back-to-back sell-offs.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 10 points, with UnitedHealth contributing the most gains and Goldman Sachs the most losses.
The S&P 500 was flat with health care leading advancers and consumer staples lagging. The Health Care Select Sector ETF (XLV) hit an intraday record earlier in the session.
The Nasdaq composite hovered near the flatline.
Crude futures for August delivery climbed 0.71 percent to trade at $42.83 a barrel. On Wednesday, oil hit its lowest level since August as investors remained concerned about a supply glut in the market. The commodity also fell more than 2 percent during Tuesday’s session.
“While we believe that Saudi Arabia will do everything within its power to keep oil prices elevated, recent production increases from other OPEC nations and the U.S. have pushed inventory levels to all-time highs,” said Jack Ablin, CIO at BMO Private Bank, in a note.
“U.S. production which was once a wildcard has become a reliable source of supply thanks to declining breakeven production costs,” Ablin said.
The pullback in oil prices pressured energy stocks. The S&P energy sector had dropped 3.5 percent for the week entering Thursday’s session.
“We’re seeing a number of indications of a softening economy,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank. “We’re growing but it seems like we’re slipping back into the slow-growth trend that’s been in place for most of the recovery.”
Still, the broader market has stood its ground, with the S&P and Dow up marginally for the week, while the Nasdaq was had risen 1.34 percent in the same period.
“Oil is becoming less important since it only makes up about 6 percent of the S&P 500”, said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors. “In the overall context of things, we know that oil is the new coal and gas is the new oil. Crude just isn’t a commodity in short supply.”
Wall Street also kept an eye on Washington as the Senate was prepared to unveil a draft of their health care bill, which aims at repealing and replacing Obamacare.
CNBC learned earlier on Thursday that the bill would would structure subsidies to insurance customers based on their incomes, phase out Medicaid’s expansion program and take out Obamacare taxes.
Health care stocks rose sharply on Wednesday as biotechnology spiked.
In corporate news, shares of American Airlines jumped more than 2.5 percent after the airline disclosed Qatar Airways had approached the firm about taking a large stake in the company. Other airline stocks like Delta Air Lines, Southwest and United followed American shares higher.
On tap this week:
Earnings: Blackberry, Finish Line
9:45 a.m. Manufacturing PMI
10:00 a.m. New home sales
10:15 a.m. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard
12:40 p.m. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester
2:15 p.m. Fed Gov. Powell