Stocks end mostly lower

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market finished mostly lower on Thursday as investors assessed the latest batch of company earnings and sold utility and energy stocks.

Tesla, a maker of electric cars, fell after reporting a first-quarter loss and saying it would need to invest more in its business.

Companies that pay steady dividends and have a long record of profitability, such as utilities, have surged this year, benefiting from a shift in sentiment as investors sold previously high-flying Internet and small-company stocks. A sell-off in these stocks could be a troubling sign for the overall market.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.58 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,875.63. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 32.43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,550.97. The Nasdaq composite lost 16.18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,051.50.

Utility companies in the S&P 500 fell 1.2 percent, paring their gains this year to 12.5 percent. Energy stocks dropped 1.3 percent.

Stocks had started the day higher as investors looked over earnings reports and after some encouraging news on hiring.

The U.S. government reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 26,000 last week to 319,000, the latest sign that the job market is slowly improving. The drop follows two weeks of increases that reflected mostly temporary layoffs around the Easter holiday.

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