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Nasdaq gains 7th day; Dow, SP 500 slip with Wal-Mart

Nasdaq gains 7th day; Dow, S&P 500 slip with Wal-Mart

The Nasdaq rose for a seventh straight session on Thursday as Priceline shares jumped, while the Dow and S&P 500 eased following declines in energy shares and a disappointing outlook from Wal-Mart.

Uncertainty over prospects of a debt deal with Greece added to investor caution. Germany rejected a Greek proposal for a six-month extension to its euro zone loan agreement, saying it fell short of conditions set out by the country’s euro zone partners.

Boosting the Nasdaq, which had its longest winning streak in a year, Priceline Group shares rallied 8.5 percent to USD 1,218.05 on its quarterly results. The stock also was the S&P 500’s largest daily percentage gainer.

A drop in shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc weighed down the Dow after the company cut its sales outlook, citing the stronger dollar. Shares dropped 3.2 percent to USD 83.52. Wal-Mart also said it would raise entry-level wages to USD 9 an hour.

The S&P energy index fell 0.8 percent while shares of Exxon Mobil dropped 1.7 percent to USD 89.44 as oil prices slid a second day following another big weekly build in U.S. crude inventories.

The decline in energy prices has eroded the profits of oil companies, and many have cut 2015 spending plans. But S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings overall have been better than expected, which has helped sentiment.

“I think it’s likely to stay strong. The rally is broadening out, and many more sectors are being included now as strong performers,” said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Bolton Global Asset Management in Boston.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 44.08 points, or 0.24 percent, to 17,985.77, the S&P 500 lost 2.23 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,097.45 and the Nasdaq Composite added 18.34 points, or 0.37 percent, to 4,924.70.

For the whole S&P 500, earnings for the quarter are up 6.5 percent from a year ago, above a Jan. 1 estimate for 4.2 percent growth, Thomson Reuters data showed. The S&P 500 index is up 1.9 percent since the start of the year.

S&P utilities, down 1.1 percent, had the biggest decline among sectors. The biggest percentage decliner in the S&P 500 was Host Hotels & Resorts, down 7.1 percent at USD 21.87, after a disappointing forecast.

Shares of American Express were down 1.7 percent at USD 78.40 after a federal judge ruled it violated US antitrust law by prohibiting merchants from steering consumers to use lower-cost credit cards.

After the closing bell, shares of Intuit jumped 4.9 percent to USD 95.60 following its results.

About 6 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 7.1 billion average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Markets.

NYSE declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 1,581 to 1,452, for a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,440 issues rose and 1,256 fell, a 1.15-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 66 new 52-week highs and one new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 104 new highs and 22 new lows.

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