Wall Street struggled through an indecisive session yesterday, finishing mixed as investors grappled with higher energy costs, the prospect...
NEW YORK — Wall Street struggled through an indecisive session yesterday, finishing mixed as investors grappled with higher energy costs, the prospect of declining earnings growth and a slower economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.22 to 10,554.93.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 13 cents to close at $26.82 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, sank 39 cents to $66.63.
Broader stock indicators were modestly lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 1.22 to 1,219.02, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 9.07 to 2,136.08.
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Oil prices were volatile throughout the session, and investors remained jittery about the possibility of economic growth curtailed by high gasoline and heating-oil prices. A barrel of light crude settled at $63.27, up 2 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange after falling well below $63 per barrel during the day.
The Conference Board’s latest reading of its index of leading economic indicators, a forecast of future economic activity, was somewhat encouraging with its prediction of modest economic growth. The index posted a 0.1 percent increase in July, less than the 0.2 percent economists had estimated and a sharp drop from June’s 1.2 percent hike.
With mediocre economic data and little change in oil, the meandering trading session was unsurprising. However, the lack of a major selloff in recent days was cause for optimism, analysts said.
“The market is behaving like you’d expect it to,” said Jack Caffrey, equities strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. “Certainly oil is going to be volatile, but earnings remain strong and the economic data is OK. I think we can expect a reasonable reacceleration of the market in the second half.”
The latest report on unemployment was disappointing for stock investors. According to the Labor Department, the number of people making first-time unemployment claims rose to 316,000 last week, up from 310,000 the previous week and higher than economists expected.
Yet despite still-high crude oil prices and their growing impact on consumer spending, many analysts remain bullish, and were cheered by the market’s relatively minor losses of late, noting that they came on light volume.
“Pullbacks are healthy, and with it coming on light volume, it just tells you that, yeah, people are worried, but they’re not bailing out entirely,” said Bill Groenveld, head trader at vFinance Investments. “Yes, oil’s a worry, and that’s going to be a month-to-month thing to watch. But economic growth is there and earnings are there.”