The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

New York - US stocks fluctuated, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index poised for its worst week in two months, as concern that violence in Iraq will disrupt oil supplies offset a rally in Intel.

Priceline Group Inc. dropped 2.2 percent after agreeing to buy OpenTable for $2.6 billion in cash.

Nike sank 1.1 percent to lead consumer-discretionary shares lower.

Intel jumped 6.7 percent after raising its sales forecasts for the second quarter and the full year.

Express rose 20 percent after Sycamore Partners said it plans to buy the clothing chain.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.1 percent to 1,927.78 at 10:08 am in New York, headed for a 1.1 percent slide this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 12.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,721.74.

The Russell 2000 Index fell 0.4 percent for a fourth day of losses.

“The market was ripe already for a pull back, it just needed something to knock it down,” Matt Maley, equity strategist at Boston-based Miller Tabak, said in a phone interview.

“It’s not the end of the world, markets pull back and that’s what it should do. I don’t think enough has happened overseas yet to turn this into a big problem.”

The S&P 500 yesterday fell for a third day, its longest streak in two months, as Iraq violence spread.

The gauge had closed at a record for four straight sessions through June 9.

Islamist fighters extended their advance today, entering two northeastern towns as government forces failed to halt an offensive that triggered concern over a civil war and prompted the US not to rule out airstrikes.


OPEC Output


The Iraqi insurgency highlights the risks to oil supply from a nation forecast to provide about 60 percent of OPEC’s output growth for the rest of this decade, the International Energy Agency said.

Investors are also watching data to determine the strength of the world’s largest economy.

Reports yesterday on jobless claims and retail sales fell short of estimates.

Wholesale prices in the US unexpectedly fell in May, suggesting demand isn’t robust enough to push inflation closer to the Federal Reserve’s target.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell this month from 81.9 in May, a report today indicated.

The Fed is watching the labour market as it moves to complete a monthly stimulus program late this year.

Policy makers meet next week, with a decision on rates and bond buying due June 18.

The stimulus has helped propel the S&P 500 higher by as much as 188 percent from its bear-market low in March 2009.


Volatility Slump



The S&P 500 has advanced 7.1 percent through yesterday since a low on April 11 as data showed the economy is recovering from the impact of extreme weather earlier this year.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index slid 0.2 percent to 12.54.

The gauge, known as the VIX, has jumped 17 percent this week.

Seven of the 10 main S&P 500 groups retreated today, with consumer-discretionary shares sliding 0.5 percent to pace losses.

Nike lost 1.1 percent to $73.49 for the steepest slide in the Dow.

OpenTable rallied 47 percent to $103.31. Priceline, the online travel agent, offered $103 a share, 46 percent above OpenTable’s closing price yesterday.

Priceline slipped 0.8 percent to $1,216.84.

Finisar sank 24 percent to $19.27.

The maker of fiber-optic communications devices forecast first-quarter earnings that missed analysts’ estimates.

Intel jumped 6.7 percent to $29.83.

The world’s largest semiconductor maker raised its second-quarter revenue forecast and said annual sales will increase for the first time since 2011, buoyed by improving business demand for personal computers.

Express jumped 20 percent to $16.31.

Sycamore Partners told the company’s board it would like to perform due diligence to determine an offer price.

Sycamore owns a 9.9 percent stake in Express. - Bloomberg News