Nasdaq, S&P 500 end slightly up as energy stocks gain

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks finished mostly higher Wednesday as an afternoon rally led by Apple and energy equities overcame early weakness on fears about an economic slowdown in China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished essentially flat at 17,402.51, down about one-third of a point.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 1.98 (0.10 per cent) at 2,086.05, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 7.60 (0.15 per cent) to 5,044.39.

Apple, which has been mostly falling the last three weeks, rose 1.6 per cent, while energy stocks like Dow member ExxonMobil (+1.7 per cent), ConocoPhillips (+2.3 per cent) and Apache (+3.2 per cent) gained on higher oil prices.

"The market made a nice turnaround," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.

"Obviously it's still about China."

US stocks spent much of the day in the red due to fears that Beijing's devaluation of the yuan signals that China's economy is weaker than thought. The Dow was down more than 275 points early in the session.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba tumbled 5.1 per cent after reporting revenues of US$3.27 billion (S$4.6 billion) for the quarter ending June 30, below the US$3.39 billion projected by analysts.

Yahoo, which has a large stake in Alibaba, fell 4.3 per cent.

Department store chain Macy's dropped 5.1 per cent as it reported second-quarter earnings of 64 cents per share, well below the 76 cents expected by analysts. Results were marred by the strong US dollar.

Kraft Heinz fell 1.6 per cent as it said it would trim 2,500 US and Canadian jobs following the merger of the two food giants.

Large banks declined, including Citigroup (-1.3 per cent) and Dow member JPMorgan Chase and Bank of American (both -1.5 per cent).

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.15 per cent from 2.14 per cent Tuesday, while the 30-year advanced to 2.84 per cent from 2.81 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.