By April 4, 2016 Read More →

Oil prices fall 2 per cent, stocks lower in quiet session

Oil prices seesawed Monday

oil prices

Oil prices dropped in trading on Monday as investors considered reports that Saudi Arabia will freeze production only in Iran and other producers do the same.  Chevron photo.

NEW YORK _ U.S. stock indexes were slightly lower in quiet trading Monday, as investors worked through several company announcements. Health care companies were solidly higher. Global markets rose modestly.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 58 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 17,735 as of 2 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost seven points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,065 and the Nasdaq composite lost 17 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,897.

FIRST CLASS: Virgin America jumped $16.30, or 42 per cent, to $55.22 after the company agreed to be bought by Alaska Air Group. Shares of Alaska Air fell $4.00, or 5 per cent, to $77.98. JetBlue, which had bid for Virgin as well, fell 70 cents, or 3.3 per cent, to $20.62.

IT’S ELECTRIC: Tesla Motors rose $11.90, or 5 per cent, to $249.55 after the company announced it had received 276,000 preorders for its highly anticipated Model 3, which is to be unveiled on Thursday.

HEALTHY: Health-care companies in the S&P 500 rose 1.3 per cent, the biggest gain in the index. The sector was helped by news out of Edwards Lifesciences, which said its new replacement heart valve product met the goals necessary in a clinical trial. Edwards Lifesciences jumped $15.50, or 17 per cent, to $105.47.

OVERSEAS: European stocks closed slightly higher. Germany’s DAX gained 0.3 per cent, France’s CAC-40 rose 0.5 per cent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.3 per cent.

OIL: Oil prices seesawed as investors digested reports that Saudi Arabia would freeze its production only if Iran and other producers agreed to do the same. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 92 cents $35.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 87 cents to $37.80 a barrel in London.

CAUTION: While stocks have recovered most their losses from earlier in the year, strategists remain hesitant about the market, especially ahead of earnings season later this month.

“We are cautious within our asset allocation,” said Thushka Maharaj, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, in a note to investors. “A positive view on the economic environment is not sufficient to sustain a positive view on risky financial assets, given already (high) valuations.”

U.S. JOBS: The U.S. government said Friday that job growth continued at a strong clip in March, slightly stronger than investors expected and showing employers were confident enough to add staff despite the slowing economy. Employers added 215,000 jobs last month, a solid figure but not enough to keep up with the new job-seekers. More people also looked for work and wages edged higher.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices didn’t move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.77 per cent. The euro rose to $1.1403 from $1.1392 while the dollar fell to 111.17 yen from 111.73 yen.

The Canadian Press

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