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Midday Update: Stocks Grinding Higher After Crude Oil Trims Earlier Losses

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average has crept back into the green this afternoon, led by gains for component companies McDonalds ( MCD ) and United Healthcare ( UNH ) together with a rebound in crude oil prices off its earlier lows. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite indices were narrowly mixed as stocks struggle to overcome mixed economic data today on wholesale inflation and consumer sentiment ahead of the Federal Reserve's rate-setting meeting next week.

Producer prices were unchanged last month, largely due to a 7.7% decline in the price of gasoline. Excluding the food and fuel segments, wholesale prices rose 0.3% during August, topping expectations looking for a 0.1% gain.

But despite cheaper fuel costs, consumer sentiment has been negatively affected by the recent wild swings on Wall Street, with the preliminary reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index falling to 85.7 this month, its lowest reading in a year and missing expectations for a slight decline to 91.0 from August's 91.9 reading.

European equities all closed lower on Friday, but still managed to finish the week on the plus side as investors overseas also brace for next week's Federal Open Markets Committee meeting, with European telecom stocks taking the brunt of today's selling pressure.

Crude oil was down 95 cents to $44.93 per barrel. Natural gas was up 1 cent to $2.77 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $8.00 to $1,101.30 per ounce, while silver was down 32 cents to $14.33 per ounce. Copper was down 1 cent to $2.44 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 1.54% to $14.69 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.79% to $12.75. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 2.52% to 12.79 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.74% to $105.59. The iShares Silver Trust was down 1.79% to $13.74.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index down 14.26 (-0.14%) to 10,005.13

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 33.57 (+0.21%) to 16,363.97

S&P 500 down 0.43 (-0.02%) to 1,951.86

Nasdaq Composite Index up 1.40 (+0.03%) to 4,797.65

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 0.19%

Hang Seng Index down 0.27%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.07%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.62%

CAC 40 down 1.04%

DAX down 0.85%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index down 1.76%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.02%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.33%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) PGI (+21.59%) Agreed to be acquired by Siris Capital Group for approximately $1 billion

(+) PBYI (+5.81%) Announced positive Neratinib data on breast cancer patient

(+) KR (+4.55%) Q2 earnings beat street expectations, guides FY15 earnings in-line

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) CHKE (-31.65%) Reported weaker-than-expected Q2 results

(-) ZUMZ (-28.37%) Q2 results were in-line with expectations, but issued weak Q3 outlook

(-) EFOI (-26.00%) Prices stock offering at 26% discount

(-) MFRM (-19.64%) Lowered FY16 earnings guidance

(-) FNSR (-18.91%) Reported downbeat Q1 earnings, issued weak guidance, CEO Eitan Gertel resigns

(-) MRVL (-16.59%) Announced filing of non-timely 10-Q and weak preliminary results

(-) AVP (-12.80%) A potential private equity investment prompted concerns about Avon's health

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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