The Dow industrials closed at a record high on Thursday, boosted by gains in Wal-Mart, but the S&P 500 was little changed as energy shares tracked crude futures prices lower.

The energy sector cut its losses late in the session after Dow Jones reported Halliburton is in talks to buy Baker Hughes. Halliburton ended up 1 percent after earlier falling as much as 4.6 percent, while Baker Hughes rallied to close up 15.3 percent at $58.75.

They were, however, the only two stocks to finish higher in the energy sector of the S&P 500, which closed down 1.3 percent. Energy shares fell as Brent crude slid below $78 a barrel while U.S. crude tumbled 3.6 percent to $74.39, both at their lowest in more than four years.

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