US stock indexes edge lower in early trading

U.S. stock indexes edged lower in early trading Wednesday, weighed down by a slide in materials and industrial companies. Consumer goods stocks were up the most. Energy stocks also rose as crude oil prices headed higher. Trading was subdued as investors monitored brewing geopolitical tensions head of the long Easter holiday weekend.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,350 as of 10:09 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 29 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,621. The Nasdaq composite index lost 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,862.

GLOBAL TENSIONS: Investors are cautious as world events this week complicate the investment outlook. Tensions are rising over North Korea, which threatened the U.S. against making any military moves after Washington ordered an aircraft carrier to head toward the divided Korean Peninsula. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Moscow with the aim of getting Russia to ditch its ally Syria following last week’s chemical attack. France’s election later in the month is also giving investors a reason to hunker down and avoid taking any big risks.

IN A BIND: Fastenal slid 5.6 percent after the maker of industrial coatings and construction fasteners said its business was hurt by higher freight expenses and inventory costs. The stock lost $2.81 to $47.54.

OUT OF SEASON: Tractor Supply fell 5.8 percent after the farm equipment retailer said sales of seasonal goods fell during the first quarter. The stock shed $4.09 to $66.38.

ROYALLY REWARDED: BlackBerry shares vaulted 18.7 percent after arbitrators awarded the smartphone maker $814.9 million to resolve a dispute with Qualcomm over royalty overpayments. The stock gained $1.92 to $12.19.

CRUSING ALTITUDE: Delta Air Lines rose 2.1 percent after the company reported earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. The stock added 96 cents to $46.25.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX added 0.2 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was 0.2 percent higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index slid 1 percent after the dollar fell under 110 yen for the first time in five months, pressuring the country’s exporters. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng reversed its losses in the final hour of trading, rising 0.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.2 percent.

OIL & GAS: Benchmark U.S. crude extended its rally. Oil was up 12 cents to $53.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 32 cents on Thursday, its sixth gain in a row. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, was up 16 cents to $56.39 a barrel.

TREASURY YIELDS: The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note fell to 2.29 percent from 2.32 percent late Tuesday. As bond prices rise, yields drop.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to a five-month low against the yen as investors seeking security amid global uncertainty piled into the Japanese currency. The dollar weakened to 109.60 yen from 109.69 yen late Tuesday, the first time it has broken below the 110 level since mid-November. The euro was roughly flat at $1.0602 from $1.0608.

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Follow Alex Veiga on Twitter at twitter.com/_AlexVeiga

His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/alex-veiga

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