Stocks wobble as investors hope for cuts in oil production

By Marley Jay

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are wavering Wednesday after shaking off early losses. The price of oil is climbing for the second consecutive day, sending energy companies higher. The Federal Reserve is holding its first meeting of the year and investors are waiting to see what it says about interest rates and the economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 6 points to 16,161 as of 1:23 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 5 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,908. The Nasdaq composite index, which has a high concentration of tech stocks, fell 25 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,542.

Stocks fell early in the day as energy prices slipped and Apple and Boeing took big losses. The Dow fell as much as 179 points. The price of oil has recovered and is adding to its gains from Tuesday.

OIL PRICES: Crude rose as investors hoped for cuts in fuel production. On Wednesday the head of Russia’s state oil pipeline monopoly said talks with OPEC and Saudi Arabia are in the works. Oil prices have plunged over the last year and a half because global supply is outstripping demand, creating a gigantic fuel glut.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 65 cents or 2.1 percent, to $32.10 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, rose $1.06, or 3.3 percent, to $32.86 $33.34 a barrel in London. Oil prices also increased about 4 percent on Tuesday.

ENERGY STOCKS: Chevron gained $1.01 to $85.13 and Exxon Mobil rose 22 cents to $76.92. Despite a weak fourth-quarter report, oil and gas company Hess climbed after it said it will make even deeper cuts in spending. Earlier this week Hess said it would slash capital spending by 40 percent in 2016. Hess added $3.57, or 10.3 percent, to $38.38.

FED PLANS: The Federal Reserve will wrap up its latest policy meeting Wednesday afternoon. In December it raised its main interest rate above zero, where it had been since 2008. Since then stocks have dropped, as have oil prices. That’s partly because investors are worrying about the global economy as growth in China slows down.

At one time the Fed was expected to raise interest rates last September, but it held off and said market turmoil was one reason for that decision. Higher interest rates would tend to make the dollar even stronger, which makes imports cheaper but makes U.S. goods more costly in other countries.

BIOGEN BOUNCES: Biotech drugmaker Biogen rose after its fourth-quarter earnings were stronger than expected. It added $22.56, or 8.7 percent, to $282.43.

APPLE CORED: Apple slumped after it said growth in iPhone sales slowed in the fourth quarter. It also predicted a revenue decline in the current quarter, something that hasn’t happened since 2003. CEO Tim Cook said the strong dollar is hurting sales. The stock gave up $4.27, or 4.3 percent, to $95.72.

The loss hurt tech stocks, which were slightly lower Wednesday afternoon.

GROUNDED: Aerospace and defense giant Boeing fell after its 2016 outlook came up short of analyst projections. Textron, which makes Cessna planes and Bell helicopters, also tumbled after its fourth-quarter profit and sales disappointed investors. Boeing stock lost $9.34, or 7.3 percent, to $118.67 and Textron fell $3.78, or 10 percent, to $33.95.

MORE MCMORAN: Freeport-McMoRan continued to climb, picking up 73 cents, or 17.4 percent, to $4.93. The copper and energy company rose almost 7 percent Tuesday after it announced plans to cut spending and production and eliminate more jobs. Activist investor Carl Icahn also disclosed he bought a stake in the company.

The stock traded above $18 a year ago.

TUPPERWARE PARTY CANCELED: Tupperware’s fourth-quarter profit and sales fell far short of estimates, and its stock shed $6, or 11.7 percent, to $45.48.

TOTAL SYSTEM SLIDES: Electronic payment services provider Total System Services fell $5.70, or 12.4 percent, to $40.30 after its earnings fell short of estimates and it gave a weak profit forecast.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.05 percent from 2 percent. The euro rose to $1.0875 from $1.0853 and the dollar rose to 118.92 yen from 118.46 yen.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC-40 added 0.5 percent while Germany’s DAX rose 0.6 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was 1.3 percent higher. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.5 percent, adding to Tuesday’s 6.4-percent loss. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 2.7 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1 percent