US stocks inch lower

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are declining Thursday as oil prices continue to plunge and energy companies take sharp losses. Health insurers are a bit higher and hospitals are lower as Congress prepares to vote on a bill intended to roll back much of former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,382 as of 12:35 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 87 points, or 0.4 percent, to 20,870. The Nasdaq composite gave up 15 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,057. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks dipped 10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,381. On the New York Stock Exchange, three out of every four stocks fell.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude futures shed another $1.94, or 4.1 percent, to $45.88 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oils, fell $1.97, or 3.9 percent, to $48.82 a barrel in London. Oil was already trading at its lowest price since November and energy companies declined along with it. Exxon Mobil skidded $1.05, or 1.3 percent, to $81.65 and Marathon Oil lost 75 cents, or 5.1 percent, to $14.10.

HEALTH VOTE: House Republicans planned a vote on a revised bill rolling back much of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The new legislation would rework subsidies for private insurance, limit federal spending on Medicaid for low-income people and cut taxes on upper-income individuals used to finance Obama’s overhaul. The House vote is expected to be close and it’s not clear if the bill can pass the Senate, or how Senators might change it if it does.

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