U.S. stocks were little changed as a retreat in energy shares offset higher-than-forecast earnings from Home Depot Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., while firming inflation bolstered speculation the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month.
Crude oil renewed a selloff a day after the commodity’s climb ignited the strongest gains among energy companies in six weeks. Today’s reversal overshadowed a rally in retailers led by Home Depot after the group’s worst weekly drop in four years.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.1 percent to 2,050.41 at 4 p.m. in New York, after erasing an earlier gain of as much as 0.7 percent. The gauge’s advance stalled at its average price during the past 200 days.
A report today showed the cost of living excluding food and fuel rose again in October after picking up the prior month, showing inflation edging closer toward the Fed’s goal. It was the strongest back-to-back readings since May and April.