(CNBC) U.S. stocks closed mixed Thursday as sharp declines in oil prices weighed. Investors are also looking ahead to the highly-anticipated jobs report due Friday morning.
The Dow Jones industrial average gave up opening gains to briefly fall 100 points in afternoon trade, with Chevron, UnitedHealth and Exxon Mobil having the greatest negative impact. Shares of health insurer Humana and Aetna fell after a report that the U.S. Department of Justice wants to meet regarding plans to merge, raising speculation of antitrust concerns.
U.S. crude oil futures settled down $2.29, or 4.83 percent, at $45.14 a barrel. Oil erased gains to trade lower after the EIA said weekly crude inventories declined 2.2 million barrels, far less than the 6.7 million barrel drawdown the American Petroleum Institute reported late Wednesday. A reversal in oil prices higher helped stocks close higher on Wednesday.
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