NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are turning modestly lower Wednesday afternoon after three days of big, erratic moves. Energy companies are falling as the price of oil slips again, and Apple is leading technology companies higher. Bond yields are down after a big increase a day earlier.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 65 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,001 as of 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. It rose as much as 96 points earlier. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,121. The Nasdaq composite climbed 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,162. Stocks are at their lowest levels in two months after big losses Friday and Tuesday. In between came a big gain on Monday.
WHERE TO? Investors have sent stocks in different directions as they wonder if the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week, and they're also speculating about the health of the global economy.
Bond prices also reflected that confusion as they changed direction once again, as yields fell and prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.69 percent. A day earlier it jumped to 1.73 percent, the highest in almost three months.
THE QUOTE: David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas, said investors aren't sure what the Federal Reserve and central banks in Europe and Japan will do. But he said they're expecting higher interest rates, or at least less economic stimulus.
"There's now a growing consensus that perhaps we're looking at a rising interest rate environment rather than a falling one," he said.
PLANT A SEED: After four months of public negotiations, seed and weedkiller maker Monsanto agreed to be bought by German drug and farm chemical company Bayer. Bayer's latest offer is worth about $57 billion in cash. Bayer makes a wide range of crop protection chemicals that kill weeds, bugs and fungus, while Monsanto is known for its seeds business and the weedkiller Glyphosate. It rose 61 cents to $106.71.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.32, or 2.9 percent, to finish at $43.58 a barrel in New York. That came after a 3 percent drop on Tuesday. The international standard, Brent crude, fell $1.25, or 2.7 percent, to $45.85 a barrel in London.
Energy companies continued to fall as well. Chevron gave up $1.13, or 1.1 percent, to $98.30 and Murphy Oil lost $1.12, or 4.3 percent, to $25.02.
CONSUMER COMPANIES: Drugstore chains Walgreens fell $1.48, or 1.8 percent, to $80.77 and CVS Health shed $1.44, or 1.6 percent, to $89.49. Kraft Heinz lost 84 cents, or 1 percent, to $87.43.
TECH TIP TOP: Apple picked up $3.63, or 3.4 percent, to $111.58, for its second day of big gains. Apple rose Tuesday after T-Mobile said it's getting strong preorders for the new iPhones. Apple gets most of its revenue from the iPhone, and those sales, while still enormous, have finally started to decline in the last year. That's hurt Apple stock, which traded above $130 a little more than a year ago.
Other gainers included customer-management software developer Salesforce.com, which added 54 cents to $73.60.
NO FIESTA: Ford dipped 24 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $12.15 after it said its pretax profit will fall this year. Ford also said its results will weaken further in 2017 as the company invests more money in electric and autonomous cars, among other areas, and costs rise. The automaker expects results to start improving in 2018.
LIVELY: Dermatology drug developer Vitae Pharmaceuticals soared to $20.84 after it agreed to be bought by Allergan, the maker of Botox. The deal values Vitae at $21 per share, or $606 million. Vitae, which doesn't have any approved products, closed at $8.10 on Tuesday. Allergan rose $4.29, or 1.8 percent, to $244.39.
STEEL STAINED: Nucor stumbled after it forecast a smaller profit than investors expected for the third quarter. The steelmaker said it expects to earn between 85 cents and 95 cents a share, while FactSet said investors were expecting $1.03 per share on average. The stock declined 79 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $45.23.
IN THE WEEDS: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store gave up $10.97, or 7.3 percent, to $139.56 after investors weren't impressed with the restaurant chain's projections for the current fiscal year.
OTHER ENERY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $1.36 a gallon. Heating oil fell 4 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $1.38 a gallon. Natural gas gave up 2 cents to $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet.
METALS: The price of gold gained $2.40 to $1,326.10 an ounce. Silver rose 9 cents to $19.07 an ounce. Copper climbed 5 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $2.16 a pound.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 102.42 yen from 102.72 yen. The euro rose to $1.1249 from $1.1208.
OVERSEAS: The CAC 40 in France fell 0.4 percent and Germany's DAX edged up 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.1 percent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.1 percent. South Korean markets were closed for a national holiday.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay