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US stocks edge higher as investors assess earnings, deal news; Exxon and Chevron slump


NEW YORK — U.S. stocks edged higher Friday, as investors assessed the latest batch of company earnings and deal news.

Coca-Cola Enterprises, an independent bottling company of Coca-Cola products, surged on a report that it is in merger talks with two of its European counterparts.

Energy stocks slumped after two big oil companies reported earnings that fell short of analysts' expectations.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,112 as of 11:57 a.m. Eastern.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed eight points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 17,753, and the Nasdaq composite was up 19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,147.

BOTTLED UP: Coca-Cola Enterprises, an independent bottling company of Coca-Cola products, jumped $6.45, or 14 percent, to $51.90 after The Wall Street Journal reported that it is in merger talks with European counterparts in Spain and Germany.

BIG OIL HUMBLED: Shares of Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the two largest publicly-traded energy companies, fell almost 4 percent each. Both companies reported their results Friday, posting major declines in profits largely due to the big drop in the price of oil over the past year. Exxon said its earnings fell 52 percent, missing estimates. Chevron reported a profit of 30 cents a share, well below the $1.13 analysts expected.

NO RAISE: U.S. wages and benefits grew at their slowest pace in 33 years in the spring, the Labor Department said, stark evidence that the improving job market still isn't lifting paychecks much for most Americans. The slowdown likely reflects a sharp drop-off in bonus and incentive pay for some workers.

The slowdown suggests that companies are still able to find the workers they need without boosting pay, a sign the job market is not yet back to full health. That could cause some Federal Reserve officials to push for a delay in any increase in the short-term interest rate they control.

"I can't imagine the Fed is looking at (this data) this morning as a reason to increase rates in September," said Tom di Galoma, head of rates trading at ED&F Man Capital.

CHINA'S SWING: Shanghai's benchmark stock index lost 14.3 percent in July, its worst monthly loss since August 2008. The index suffered its biggest one-day drop in eight years on Monday when it plunged 8.5 percent despite government intervention.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 78 cents to $47.75 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell 0.3 percent to 123.90 yen and the euro rose 1 percent to $1.1049. Bonds rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.20 percent from 2.26 percent.

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