US stock indexes hold steady as oil's dismal week eases

US stock indexes hold steady as oil's dismal week eases

US stock indexes have held steady after the price of oil halted its slide, at least for now.

Energy stocks fell again, but not by nearly as much as earlier in the week, after crude rose for the first time in four days. Big gains for health care stocks also helped to offset losses for financial companies and other areas of the market, leaving indexes close to flat.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged down by 1.11 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,434.50. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 12.74, or 0.1%, to 21,397.29, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 2.73 points, or less than 0.1%, to 6,236.69.

Markets this week have been dominated by oil's tumbling price and worries about how much it will affect the broader market. Benchmark US crude rose 21 cents to settle at 42.74 US dollars per barrel, and Brent crude, the international standard, added 40 cents to 45.22 US dollars per barrel. It may not sound like much, but it is a big shift in momentum from earlier in the week, when oil dropped to its lowest level since August on expectations that supplies will exceed demand.

Energy stocks in the S&P 500 dipped by 0.1%, a much milder drop than the prior two days, when they fell at least 1.2%.

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