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Stocks fluctuate early today

U.S. stocks fluctuated, after equities slipped to a two-month low Tuesday, as a rally in energy shares offset concern the Ukraine crisis will escalate while Sprint Corp. and Time Warner Inc. tumbled on merger news.

Peabody Energy Corp. jumped 2.2 percent to pace gains among energy companies after the group plunged 2.1 percent Tuesday. Sprint slid 17 percent after a person with knowledge of the matter said it ended talks to acquire T-Mobile US Inc. Time Warner tumbled 11 percent after Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. withdrew its unsolicited takeover bid for the company.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose less than 0.1 percent to 1,920.98 at 10:38 a.m. in New York. The gauge erased losses after dropping below its average level for the past 100 days. The Dow Jones industrial average added 4.14 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 16,433.61. Trading in S&P 500 companies was 38 percent above the 30-day average for this time of day.

“There’s cash sitting on the sidelines looking for an opportunity to go back in,” Kevin Caron, who helps oversee $170 billion at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Florham Park, New Jersey, said in a phone interview. “It may just be that there are some value investors who are stepping in and starting to nibble here. The correction we’ve seen so far has been enough to get at least some investors’ attention.”

The S&P 500 slid 1 percent Tuesday to the lowest level since May as tensions escalated over Ukraine. The benchmark gauge has lost 3.3 percent since reaching a record of 1,987.98 on July 24. It tumbled the most since June 2012 last week as companies around the globe posted disappointing results, Argentina defaulted and Banco Espirito Santo SA was ordered to raise capital.

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