U.S. stocks were little changed in the slowest trading this year as a fifth day of declines in crude-oil prices failed to lift the Dow Jones industrial average from its highest level since mid-July.
"There are still two other big problems out there: You still have the presidential election, you still have Iraq," said Richardson Merriman, who manages $1 billion for Pennsylvania Trust in Radnor, Pa. "We're not buying anything."
Semiconductor shares such as Intel dragged the Nasdaq composite index lower after Banc of America Securities said demand for chips has peaked amid an economic slowdown. Starbucks had the biggest drop in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index as the coffee chain said sales rose less than expected this month.
The Dow fell 8.33, or 0.1 percent, to 10,173.41 and the S&P 500 was up 0.13, to 1105.09, after bouncing between gains and losses for most of the day. The Nasdaq slipped 7.80, or 0.4 percent, to 1852.92.
Intel retreated 18 cents, to $21.77, and Advanced Micro Devices fell 38 cents, to $11.82. Micron Technology slid 20 cents, to $11.83. Broadcom dropped 58 cents, to $29.23. Starbucks fell $2.97, or 6.5 percent, to $43.07. August same-store sales for the largest U.S. coffee chain increased 8 percent, less than the 11 percent average gain in the first 11 months of the company's fiscal year.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts tumbled $1.59, to $13.77. The No. 2 U.S. doughnut maker said second-quarter earnings fell 56 percent because of costs to close unprofitable stores.
Merck fell 97 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $45.05, for the biggest drop in the Dow. The drugmaker's Vioxx painkiller increases the chance of heart attack and death from cardiac arrest more than Pfizer's Celebrex, according to a Food and Drug Administration study. Merck said it disagrees with the finding. Pfizer rose 40 cents, to $32.31.
The drop in oil prices boosted the Amex Airline Index for the eighth day in nine. The index has rallied 17 percent in the past nine days. Southwest Airlines, the biggest low-fare airline, gained 29 cents, to $15.30.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 8.01, to 6439.80; the American Stock Exchange index rose 4.41, to 1221.73; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 2.89, to 547.25.
* Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 5 to 4 on the NYSE, where trading volume fell to 1.02 billion shares, from 1.19 billion on Wednesday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, decliners outnumbered advancers by 3 to 2 and volume totaled 1.16 billion, down from 1.29 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note rose $4.06 per $1,000 invested, and its yield fell to 4.21 percent, from 4.27 percent on Wednesday.
* The dollar fell against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 109.33 yen, down from 110.20 late Wednesday, and a euro bought $1.2115, up from $1.2093.
* Light, sweet crude oil for October delivery settled at $43.10, down 37 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery fell to $407.40 a troy ounce, from $407.90 on Wednesday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.