Stocks holds steady as oil prices rise
NEW YORK » Stocks gave up a moderate early advance to close barely changed yesterday after oil prices rebounded from their recent decline, rising as much as $1 a barrel.
Investors also moved to the sidelines to wait for Wednesday's Federal Reserve meeting on interest rate policy. Wall Street had been flirting with 2006 highs, but the market remains anxious about the possibility the Fed could raise its benchmark short-term rate, which is now at 5.25 percent.
Readings of economic growth and inflation remain mixed; the rise in oil carries with it concerns that inflation will accelerate.
The energy and materials sectors were the day's winners.
"The most significant thing going on today is just the recovery of energy and energy services," said Richard E. Cripps, chief market strategist for Stifel Nicolaus, a broker based in St. Louis. Some of the indexes that track those groups have lost 7 percent this month as oil fell, he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 5.77, or 0.05 percent, to 11,555.00.
Broader stock indicators were basically unchanged after also retreating. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.31 to 1,321.18, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.16, or 0.01 percent, to 2,235.75.
Declining issues led advancers by 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange, where final consolidated volume was 2.43 billion shares, down from 3.29 billion Friday, when volume was swelled by quarterly options expirations.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 0.51, or 0.07 percent, at 728.84.
Bonds fell, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note at 4.81 percent, up from 4.79 percent Friday. The U.S. dollar was mostly lower against other major currencies. Gold prices rose.
Crude oil futures rose. A barrel of light crude settled at $63.80, up 47 cents on the New York Mercantile Exchange after earlier rising more than $1.
The day's economic news was cheerless. The U.S. Commerce Department said America's deficit in the broadest measure of foreign trade increased in the spring to the second highest level in history, reflecting a big jump in payments for foreign oil. The current account deficit rose to $218.4 billion in the April-June quarter, an increase of 2.4 percent over the deficit the first three months of the year.
The current account is the broadest measure of foreign trade because it covers not only trade in goods and services but also investment flows between countries. The deficit represents the amount the United States must borrow from foreigners to cover the shortfall between exports and imports.