Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks finished flat Thursday as a drop in energy shares offset a rebound in retail sales and stronger-than-expected Cisco results.

The S&P energy index dropped 1.4 percent, leading the decline in the S&P 500, as U.S. crude oil prices slid to a six-and-a-half year low.

The S&P consumer discretionary index rose 0.6 percent, the most among the major 10 S&P sectors, but it had been up more earlier.

U.S. retail sales rose in July, while the trend of weekly jobless claims pointed to a tightening job market. The data supported the view the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates as early as next month, offsetting speculation in the previous two sessions that the Fed could wait until December to raise rates after China devalued its currency.

“The market is still adjusting to the Chinese devaluation. Obviously, that’s created a lot of uncertainty and people are not sure how this is going to play out,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) jumped 2.9 percent to $28.70, giving the biggest boost to the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 5.74 points to 17,408.25, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) lost 2.66 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,083.39 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 10.83 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,033.56.

The S&P financial index rose 0.3 percent, after falling in the previous two sessions.

In corporate news, retailers posted mixed quarterly results.

Coty (COTY) rose 2.9 percent to $28.70 after its sales beat estimates for the first time in five quarters, while Kohl’s (KSS) fell 8.8 percent to $56.11 after its same-store sales missed expectations.

News Corp. (NWSA) rose 7.6 percent to $15.19 after the Wall Street Journal owner’s profit topped estimates, helped by cost cuts at its news business, including Dow Jones.


What to watch Friday:

J.C. Penney (JCP) reports quarterly financial results before U.S. markets open.
The Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index for July at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The Federal Reserve releases industrial production for July at 9:15 a.m.

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