Oil swoons but US stock markets hold steady

NYSE trader Image copyright Reuters

Energy stocks were the heaviest fallers on Wall Street on Thursday as the oil price hit a five-month low.

Chevron and Exxon Mobil were two of the biggest fallers on the S&P 500 index after Brent crude dropped 5% to below $49 a barrel on concerns of oversupply.

The falls dampened growth elsewhere. The S&P 500 rose 1.39 points to 2,389.52.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index climbed 2.79 points to 6,075.34, and the Dow Jones index fell 6.43 to 20,951.47.

Chevron shares fell 1.8% and Exxon Mobil dropped 1.3%.

There were steeper declines at other firms, including Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy, which saw its stock fall by more than 7%.

The natural gas producer reported quarterly earnings on Thursday, surprising analysts with a larger-than-expected production decline.

US markets were also little moved by the US House of Representatives passing a new healthcare bill.

It was a major victory for US President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders, coming after previous efforts had failed. But making it out of the Senate is likely to be more difficult.

Hospital stocks rebounded after initially falling after the vote.

Elsewhere, Tesla shares fell 5% after the electric car maker reported a 7% drop in customer deposits in the first quarter.

Fitness tech firm Fitbit, payment operator Square and beer giant AB InBev were among the biggest winners, after they reported better-than-expected quarterly results.