US stocks end flat; oil shares tumble

NEW YORK (AFP) - Petroleum-linked shares tumbled on Thursday (May 4) as oil prices continued to retreat, pressuring US stocks even as President Donald Trump scored a win in Congress with a health-care reform Bill.

Oil producers such as ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips and oil-services companies including Halliburton dropped as US oil prices fell nearly 5 per cent to end at US$45.72 a barrel, the lowest closing price of 2017.

Analysts said investors were heartened by a narrow vote by the House of Representatives in favour of Trump's plan for dismantling much of Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

But the vote had little effect on stocks because passage had been expected and the proposal faces a long road to passage in the divided Senate.

Health-care reform is "important," but "they've still got to grind through the next step," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped less than 0.1 per cent to close the session at 20,951.47.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent to 2,389.52, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index won 0.1 per cent to 6,075.34.

Tesla Motors lost 5 per cent as it reported a net loss of US$330 million (S$460 million) in the first quarter, far wider than the US$121 million deficit a year earlier.

Viacom dropped 7.1 per cent after executives acknowledged that Charter Communications had moved some of its top networks into higher-priced cable packages, potentially hurting demand for the channels.

Costco Wholesale rose 1.5 per cent after it reported a 3 percent rise in same store sales for April.

Rival Wal-Mart Stores gained 0.8 per cent.