US indexes inch higher after a three-day slump; markets dip in Europe and Asia

Major stock indexes are creeping slightly higher in midday trading as the market comes off a three-day losing streak.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was up 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,778 as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up two points, a sliver of a percent, to 2,081, while the Nasdaq composite fell 18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,003.

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AIMLESS: John Canally, an investment strategist at LPL Financial, expects the market to drift until the Federal Reserve meets next week. "Basically, we're in a waiting period for the Fed," he said. "Today is probably what you can expect for the rest of the week: a lack of direction."

The stock market has drifted lower over recent weeks as investors speculate about the Federal Reserve's next move. Many think the Fed will raise its benchmark interest rate later this year for the first time since the Great Recession. A solid jobs report on Friday suggested that the economy has started to recover from its winter slump.

NO BANANAS: United Natural Foods, a supplier to Whole Food Markets and other stores, slumped 4 percent after it posted results that fell short of analysts' targets late Monday. It also cut its full-year forecast for profits. The company's stock dropped $2.19 to $61.47.

ACROSS THE POND: Major markets in Europe continued to lose ground. Germany's DAX slipped 0.6 percent, and France's CAC 40 lost 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 finished with a loss of 0.5 percent.

CUTS: HSBC Holdings, Europe's largest bank by market value, fell 1 percent in London after it said it was slashing up to 25,000 jobs and shifting its focus toward Asia, where it has a large and growing business.

CRUDE: Benchmark U.S. crude oil climbed $1.74 to $59.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Prices for U.S. government bonds fell, lifting the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to 2.42 percent. The U.S. dollar fell to 124.25 yen from 124.62 yen on Monday. The euro slipped against the dollar, dipping to $1.1243 from $1.1278.

ASIA: Japan's Nikkei 225 sank 1.8 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite shed 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.1 percent.