Stocks on Wall Street recovered from earlier losses, boosted by demand for retailers, after major energy shares slid on a bearish reading of crude oil inventory data.
Retailers were buoyant, with Target rising 2.6% after boosting second-quarter earnings. Others followed suit, with Kohl's up 3.1%, Nordstrom up 2.8% and JC Penney up 2.5%.
Prices drifted again in late afternoon trading with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing just 9.69 points up, or 0.1%, at 10,415.54. The S&P 500 index added 0.15% to 1094.16, with its energy sector falling more than 2%.
The Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.3% to 2215.70.
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan remained in the spotlight after mining giant BHP Billiton decided to bypass Potash's board and go directly to its shareholders with a hostile bid worth $US38.6 billion.
BHP is sticking with its offer price of $US130 a share in cash, even after the Potash board described it as "grossly inadequate." Potash shares rose 2.8% in the US while BHP's New York-listed shares fell 3%.
Other markets: Europe down, Asia mixed
European stocks retreated with the Stoxx Europe 600 index ending down 0.3% at 257.60, though it closed off intraday lows.
The UK's FTSE 100 closed 0.9% lower at 5302.87, falling further than its European peers because of the slump in heavily weighted mining stocks and oil majors.
Germany's DAX fell 0.3% to 6186.31 and France's CAC-40 declined 0.4% to 3647.93.
Asian stocks ended mixed, with Japanese shares advancing as technology and automobile exporters rose, pushing the Nikkei Stock Average up 0.9% to 9240.54.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.1% to 4474.91 as BHP Billiton tumbled, forcing a retreat in the broad market after Potash rejected a takeover bid.
Profit-taking in recent gainers such as Hutchison Whampoa dragged on Hong Kong, offsetting upbeat property developers after two land auctions attracted strong demand. The Hang Seng Index fell 0.5% to 21,022.73,
Korea's Kospi added 0.4% 1761.99, the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.2% to 2666.30, Taiwan's Taiex slipped 0.1% 7924.10, India's Sensex rose 0.4% to 18,527.12 and Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.1% to 2919.37.
Commodities: Oil down, gold up
Crude-oil futures fell to six-week lows, retreating after a government report showed a decrease in inventories that was still viewed as bearish for prices.
Crude for September delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Light, sweet crude for September delivery lost $1.85, or 2.4%, to $73.89 a barrel in New York. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange traded 94USc lower at $US75.99 a barrel.
Gold turned up after dropping earlier in the day.
The most actively traded gold contract, for December delivery, was up $US5.30 at $US1233.60 an ounce in New York.
Currencies: Pound up, dollar down
The US dollar remained steady against the euro but maintained losses against the UK pound after Bank of England policy meeting minutes dispelled worries that it may be considering further easing measures.
The pound rose to $US1.5619, up from a $US1.5574 close on Tuesday. The euro fell 0.2% against the pound and hovered around $US1.2878, compared with $US1.2876 on Tuesday.
The dollar slipped to ¥85.34, down from ¥85.62 and one euro bought ¥109.94, down from ¥110.27.
Thu, 19 Aug 2010