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US stocks edge lower in late morning trading

By STEVE ROTHWELL

AP Markets Writer NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. stocks edged lower in late morning trading as investors assessed the latest company earnings and the outlook for the economy. Investors are still troubled by the potential for escalating tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,915 as of 12:11 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 41 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,402. The Nasdaq composite dropped five points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,350.

THE NETWORK IS DOWN: Phone and internet companies were among the biggest decliners. Windstream Holdings fell 29 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $11.26 after it reported that its earnings fell by 64 percent in the second quarter. The earnings missed analysts' expectations.

JOBLESS CLAIMS: Fewer people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week. Claims remain at relatively low levels consistent with stronger economic growth. Weekly applications fell 14,000 to 289,000, the Labor Department said.

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EARNINGS: Fox rose $2.13, or 6.6 percent, to $34.45 after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings late Wednesday. The company got a boost from films including "X-Men," ''Rio 2," and "The Fault in Our Stars." The company gained a day earlier after dropping its bid for Time Warner.

THE QUOTE: The S&P 500 is about 3.7 percent down from its record close of 1,987.98 on July 24, but prices may have to fall further before investors are tempted to buy again, said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential. The S&P 500 slumped 1 percent on Tuesday on reports that Russia was massing its troops near the Ukrainian border.

"In essence, the skittishness from the start of the week is continuing," said Krosby.

THE THIRD DIMENSION: Stratasys, a maker of three-dimensional printers, surged $12.74, or 13 percent, to $111.95 after reporting that its second-quarter revenue rose 67 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The company also raised its earnings forecast for the remainder of the year. Other three-dimensional printer companies also rose. 3D Systems gained $1.70, or 3.4 percent, to $49.42.

EUROPE'S BANKS UNMOVED: Both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England kept their main interest rates on hold at record lows of 0.15 percent and 0.50 percent respectively. Both decisions were anticipated.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The situation in Russia remains a real concern for the ECB and with the eurozone economy in its current state of stagnation, it may only be a matter of time before further monetary stimulus is introduced," said Dennis de Jong, managing director of UFX.com.

EUROPEAN STOCKS: The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.6 percent. Germany's DAX dropped 1 percent.

RUSSIA SANCTIONS: Investors are also monitoring the tit-for-tat sanctions that are taking place between Russia and the West. Earlier, Moscow banned most food imports from the West in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine, a sweeping move that will cost Western farmers, but could also lead to empty shelves in Russian cities.

OIL AND BONDS: Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery was unchanged at $96.93 in New York. Oil has dropped seven of the last eight days. U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year note, which falls as prices rise, fell to 2.44 percent, its lowest of the year.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 102.36 yen and the euro fell to $1.3365.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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