By March 7, 2016 Read More →

Oil prices, energy companies lead stock market gains

Oil prices end the day at $37.90 per barrel, Brent crude at $40.84 per barrel

Oil prices

Oil prices and energy stocks helped stock markets end the day with modest gains.  Repsol photo.

NEW YORK _ Stocks wavered throughout the day but managed to eke out modest gains Monday as oil prices rose.

Investors bought drillers, refiners and other energy companies as the three-week rise in crude continued. Six of 10 industry sectors in the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose, helping the index extend its winning streak to a fifth day.

The ride up was bumpy, though, and the gains were slight. The S&P 500 gained just 0.09 per cent. That was its smallest increase in seven weeks.

“Today’s volatility is mostly about a little profit-taking and taking a pause after such a strong advance in recent days,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital.

The Dow Jones industrial average increased 67.18 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 17,073.95. The S&P 500 edged up 1.77 points to 2,001.76. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, gave up 8.77 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4,708.25.

Shares of consumer products and technology companies fell. Chipmaker Micron Technology fell 30 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $11.58.

With no big U.S. economic or earnings announcements, news from abroad appeared to drive much of the trading.

The price of iron ore jumped 17 per cent on news over the weekend that China plans to run up its deficit to stimulate its economy. China is the world’s largest buyer of this raw material for steel, and mining companies soared on the news. Cliffs Natural Resources rose 54 cents to $3.43, a gain of 19 per cent.

China also lowered its official growth target this year to 6.5 to 7 per cent. The slowdown has been rattling markets, although fears that the trouble could spill over into the U.S. economy have eased in recent weeks as encouraging U.S. data suggest growth is solid. On Friday, the government reported that employers added 242,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, more than had been expected.

“The market is correctly pricing in a lower chance of global recession or U.S. recession,” said Brian Nick, head of tactical asset allocation at UBS Wealth Management Americas.

Investors are anxious over a policy meeting of the European Central Bank on Thursday as inflation across the 19-country eurozone has fallen back below zero. They expect further stimulus from the central bank, possibly including a cut in deposit rates further into negative territory. The Bank for International Settlements, which helps co-ordinate monetary policy around the world, warned on Monday of a “gathering storm” as central banks run out of room to stimulate their economies.

European markets were mostly lower, with France’s CAC-40 and Britain’s FTSE 100 each losing 0.3 per cent. Germany’s DAX dropped 0.5 per cent.

Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.98, or 5.5 per cent, to close at $37.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The 10 biggest gainers in the S&P 500 were drillers and other energy-related companies. Murphy Oil rose $2.99, or nearly 13 per cent, to $26.69.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei retreated 0.6 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.1 per cent. Seoul’s Kospi advanced 0.1 per cent.

In other energy trading, Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose $2.12, or 5.5 per cent, to $40.84 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline rose 6.1 cents to $1.393 a gallon, heating oil rose 6.1 cents to $1.223 a gallon and natural gas rose 2.4 cents to $1.69 per 1,000 cubic feet.

U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.90 per cent from 1.87 per cent on Friday. The euro rose to $1.1013 from $1.0999 and the dollar fell to 113.27 yen from 114.02 yen.

Precious and industrial metals futures ended mixed. Gold fell $6.70 to $1,264 an ounce, silver slipped six cents to $15.63 an ounce and copper rose a penny to $2.28 a pound.

The Canadian Press

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