U.S.stock-market indexes closed slightly lower Thursday, after spending most of the session without clear direction, as investors focused on a symposium of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The S&P 500 closed 5.07 points, or 0.2%, lower at 2,438.97, with consumer-staples shares leading the decline. The sector fell 1.3%. Kroger Co. dropped 8%, while Costco Wholesale Corp declined 5%, after Amazon.com Inc. announced late afternoon that its merger with Whole Foods Market Inc. would be completed as early as Monday and that the organic supermarket chain would offer discounts on items, rattling rival grocers.
The Nasdaq Composite index closed 7.08 points, or 0.1% lower, at 6,271.33. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 28.69 points, or 0.1%, to 21,783.40. Among other individual performers on Wall Street, J.M. Smucker Co. shares tumbled 9.5% as the foods producer lowered its full-year outlook and its first-quarter earnings missed estimates. The Jackson Hole gathering will feature speeches from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. Separately, insurer shares took it on the chin as Tropical storm Harvey, headed toward the Gulf Coast, was upgraded to a hurricane, which could increase to a Category 3 storm. Travelers Cos. Inc. shares, a Dow component, was among the blue-chip’s worst performers, off 1.3%.