Stocks move mostly lower in quiet trade; oil prices decline

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are flat to slightly lower in afternoon trading Monday as the market drifts between small gains and losses. A drop in oil prices pulled energy companies lower. Investors were looking ahead to the Fed's meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for clues on timing for possible...

 
              FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, file photo, the American flag flies above the Wall Street entrance to the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks were moving mostly lower in early trading Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, as investors looked ahead to the Fed’s meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for clues on timing for possible interest rate hikes. A drop in oil prices pulled energy companies lower, along with the broader market. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are flat to slightly lower in afternoon trading Monday as the market drifts between small gains and losses. A drop in oil prices pulled energy companies lower. Investors were looking ahead to the Fed's meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for clues on timing for possible interest rate hikes.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost seven points, or 0.04 percent, to 18,546 as of 2:50 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost a point, or 0.03 percent, to 2,183 and the Nasdaq composite rose three points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,242.

DRUGMAKER MERGER: Cancer drug maker Medivation jumped $13.27, or 20 percent, to $80.43 after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced it would buy the company for $14 billion, or $81.50 a share. Pfizer is buying Medivation for its heavily used prostate cancer drug Xtandi, which generates roughly $2 billion in sales a year.

The Medivation deal pushed other biotechnology stocks higher as well, helping the Nasdaq do better than the S&P 500 and the Dow. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Alexion Pharmaceuticals all were up roughly 3 percent or more.

ENERGY WEAKNESS: Oil prices fell sharply. U.S. benchmark crude lost $1.47 to close at $47.05 a barrel and Brent crude, used to price oil internationally, declined $1.72 to close at $49.16 a barrel. The drop in energy prices dragged down energy stocks, which lost roughly 1 percent, more than the rest of the market.

FED WATCH: Investors were looking ahead to a speech by Fed chair Janet Yellen at an annual summer gathering in Jackson Hole for indications of how policymakers view the outlook for economic growth and interest rates. Analysts expect Yellen to express caution but support the impression the U.S. central bank is on track to raise rates as early as this year.

While investors do not expect the central bank to raise interest rates at its September meeting, there's always the possibility and the increasing likelihood of a rate increase once the presidential election is finished.

ALL QUIET: Trading is likely to be subdued this week, as it has been all month. Second quarter earnings season is effectively over and the next major piece of economic data does not come until Friday, when Yellen will speak. The last time the S&P 500 had a move of 1 percent or more was July 8, when it rose 1.5 percent.

"We are in the calm before it gets much busier after Labor Day," said David Lebovitz, a global market strategist with JP Morgan Funds. Lebovitz said investors will have both the Fed's interest rate policy and the presidential election to deal with in the next couple of months.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.55 percent from 1.58 percent late Friday. The dollar rose to 100.43 yen from 100.24 yen. The euro fell to $1.1312 from $1.1324.

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