Markets calm amid losses in oil

NEW YORK – U.S. stock indexes nestled a hair lower on Friday after the falling price of oil weighed on energy companies, but the S&P 500 nevertheless closed out its third straight winning week following a brutal stretch in December.

It was a day full of broken streaks – oil fell for the first time in two weeks, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note sank to its first loss in more than a week – but the market remained calm through it. Gradual moves for markets in recent days have offered a respite following the tumultuous trading that rocked investors in late 2018.

The S&P 500 edged down by 0.38 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,596.26. Last month, a typical day for the index was a swing 10 times that.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 5.97 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 23,995.95. The Nasdaq composite lost 14.59, or 0.2 percent, to 6,971.48, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks ticked up by 1.95, or 0.1 percent, to 1,447.38.

It was the first loss for the S&P 500 in six days, and much of the reason for it was the falling price of oil.

Consumer prices fall 0.1% in December

Consumer prices slipped 0.1 percent last month, pulled down by sharply lower gas prices and cheaper air fares, used cars, and mobile phone plans.

The Labor Department said the consumer price index rose just 1.9 percent in December from a year earlier, the first time it has fallen below 2 percent since August 2017.

Excluding the volatile energy and food categories, core prices rose 0.2 percent for the third month in a row. They rose 2.2 percent from a year ago for the second straight month.

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