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Stocks - S&P 500 Struggles to Hold Gains as Energy, Trade Concerns Weigh

S&P 500 remains about 0.5% below all-time highs - The S&P 500's march toward all-time highs was stalled by falling energy stocks and trade-war concerns, which offset upbeat corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 0.29%. The S&P 500 fell 0.14%, while the Nasdaq Composite rose about 0.04%.

Quarterly earnings continued to lend supported to the broader market as Century Link, and Viacom reported better-than-expected earnings.

CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) stock rose 13%, pushing the telecom sector higher, after reporting earnings above expectations and raising full-year guidance. Viacom (NASDAQ:VIAB) closed 6% higher as earnings topped expectations, but revenue fell short.

The slew of reports Thursday kept the trend of above-forecast earnings intact, countering investor concerns over the trade war between the U.S. and China.

About 340, or 76%, of S&P 500 companies' earnings reported so far, have been better-than-expected, according to FactSet.

In the latest on trade disputes, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce slapped a 25% tariff on an additional $16 billion worth of U.S. products on Wednesday. In a surprise move, however, the ministry removed U.S. crude from the list of goods subject to the levy, but included oil products.

The announcement from China came after the Trump administration followed through with a 25% tariff on an additional $16 billion of Chinese goods.

Concerns over the trade war flared up in energy markets, as oil prices settled lower amid worries about a possible slowdown in global crude demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for September fell 13 cents to settle at $66.81 a barrel.

Economic data, meanwhile, offered little to boost sentiment on equities, showing the pace of wholesale prices in June was flat, while jobless claims grew less than expected.

The data arrived a day ahead of an all-important consumer inflation report.

In corporate news, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock slumped nearly 5% as investors questioned whether CEO Elon Musk would be able to fulfil his ambition to take the company private.

"We do see some potential issues transitioning the current shareholder base to this type of private structure as there may not be enough liquidity for large institutions within the current fund ownerships," Goldman Sachs said. "We note that incremental equity or leverage could potentially be needed to help finance a management buyout."

Top S&P Gainers and Losers Today:

CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), Flowserve (NYSE:FLS) and Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) were among the top S&P gainers for the session.

Perrigo (NYSE:PRGO), Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) and Coty (NYSE:COTY) were among the worst S&P performers of the session.

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