Closing Market Report
Star-Bulletin news services

Erratic oil prices
shake investors

NEW YORK » Stocks ended an erratic session mixed yesterday as investors weighed slightly higher oil prices against strong earnings from companies including Verizon Communications Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc.

The major indexes wavered throughout the day as investors tracked fluctuations in crude oil futures, which settled at $59.12 a barrel, up 20 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Rising oil prices, which could lead to lower consumer spending and declining corporate earnings, have shadowed stocks for months and distracted investors yesterday from the current crop of upbeat earnings reports.

Wall Street also reacted strongly to any company news that strayed from expectations. Investors punished chemical maker DuPont Co. because its sales fell below forecasts, but bid up Lockheed Martin Corp., the nation's biggest defense contractor, whose forecast for the year was above expectations.

"The market's being very selective about who they reward and who they punish," said Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup. "If a company comes through and literally trounces the numbers, the stock gets a positive reaction. ... If it isn't perfect, they beat them up."

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 16.71, or 0.16 percent, to 10,579.77.

Broader stock indicators were higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.13, or 0.17 percent, to 1,231.16, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 9.25, or 0.43 percent, to 2,175.99.

Stocks also stumbled in early trading after Chinese officials suggested last week's revaluation of the yuan may have been an isolated step. After the revaluation, the Chinese currency will be pegged to a basket of currency instead of being pegged solely to the dollar, but investors hope Chinese central bankers will eventually allow the yuan to float, which could make Chinese goods look like less of a bargain compared to products made in America.

Americans' faith in the economy as measured by the Conference Board's consumer confidence index edged lower in July following three months of gains. Lynn Franco, director of the organization's Consumer Research Center, said the dip was "no cause for concern."

DuPont fell $2.89 to $41.15, although the company beat earnings forecasts. Lockheed Martin, which also beat expectations, gained $1.48 to $63.99.

Safeway Inc.'s second-quarter profit dropped 14 percent as the costs of an ambitious makeover offset an uptick in sales. Safeway shares rose 38 cents to $23.92.

Search: TickerName

by Financials.com

| | |
E-mail to Business Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com