Crude oil prices continued to slip today while the stock market continued to snooze.
Reports that Iraq's revered Ayatollah Ali Sistani had negotiated a peace settlement in Najaf with rebel cleric Moqtada Sadr brought crude oil prices down for the fifth day in a row -- the longest decline in 10 months.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil futures fell 32 cents a barrel to $43.15 -- down more than 9 percent in the last week.
The oil market was much calmer. There was little evidence that the market was moved by news of another attack on an Iraqi pipeline, or be a plea by a group of airline presidents for tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help hold down prices.
While Wednesday's drop of more than a dollar in crude oil futures gave the stock market a significant boost, today's modest decline seemed to have little impact on the lackadaisical trading.
The day's top economic news was that new applications for unemployment benefits rose for the first time in four weeks, increasing by 10,000 to 343,000. But that uptick was blamed on Hurricane Charley, which cost thousands of Florida residents their jobs.
On the corporate front, the stock that drew the most attention was Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., which fell more than 10 percent. The stock, which last summer was over $49 a share closed down $1.59 a share at $13.77. Krispy Kreme reported a 56 percent drop in quarterly profits, announced it is closing some stores and said it will not make any prediction about earnings for the rest of the year.
Krispy Kreme is not a member of any of the major stock indexes, which meandered between small losses and smaller gains. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 8 points at 10173.41. The Standard & Poors 500 stock index gained a small fraction of a point to 1105.09. The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index slid 8 points to 1852.92.