Stocks closed mixed yesterday as strong earnings from Alcoa led the Dow Jones industrial average slightly higher but the Nasdaq gave up...
NEW YORK — Stocks closed mixed yesterday as strong earnings from Alcoa led the Dow Jones industrial average slightly higher but the Nasdaq gave up early gains as rising oil prices renewed worries about inflation and recession.
The Dow rose 14.41 to 10,253.17. The Dow lost 276.36 points, or 2.6 percent, last week, and fell an additional 53 points Monday.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, slipped 5 cents to close at $24.41 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, fell $1.20 to $66.70.
Broader stock indicators were slightly lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.46 to 1,184.87, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 17.83 to 2,061.09.
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Solid earnings and outlooks from a handful of companies helped the Dow, which rose after aluminum maker Alcoa reported higher profits despite rising energy costs and lower prices for aluminum. Alcoa rose 19 cents to $22.85 after it said its profits, released after the close of trading Monday, were 2 percent higher than a year ago.
But the market’s gains narrowed in afternoon trading as broader indexes fell and oil prices climbed.
Traders continue to look for signs that higher energy costs will depress corporate earnings, and oil prices stoked that nervousness.
A barrel of light crude settled at $63.53, up $1.73, in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The market’s behavior is typical of an aging bull market, and this bull market, in its fourth year, is aging, said Charles Blood Jr., senior financial-markets analyst at Brown Brothers Harriman.
“Things are just more erratic, they take longer, they’re not as decisive,” he said.
“We have decent economic growth, but the Fed’s tightening,” Blood said. “Earnings should be good, but rising interest rates are putting a little bit of pressure on valuation. All that nets out to a higher market, but not every day and every week.”
Investors got another signal that the Federal Reserve’s tightening of short-term interest rates to stave off inflation would continue.
In minutes released from its Sept. 20 closed-door discussions, Fed officials said they felt the need to keep boosting interest rates in September, partly out of concern that a pause might mislead people into thinking the Fed was too worried about the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina.
“A pause in policy tightening at this meeting had the potential to mislead the public both about the committee’s perceptions of the fundamental strength and resilience of the economy and about its commitment to fostering price stability,” the minutes stated.
The minutes also said the economy might get a lift in 2006 as the Gulf Coast rebuilds after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.