Wall Street ended a volatile week with a big advance yesterday as oil prices tumbled below $50 per barrel and jittery investors took solace...
NEW YORK — Wall Street ended a volatile week with a big advance yesterday as oil prices tumbled below $50 per barrel and jittery investors took solace in a pair of economic reports that eased their inflation concerns.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 122.14 to 10,192.51.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, rallied 85 cents to close at $25.30 a share yesterday, up 1.3 percent for the week. Boeing, also a Dow stock, rose 80 cents to $59.52 and was up 2.8 percent for the week.
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Broader stock indicators also moved sharply higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 13.63 at 1,156.85, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 17.47 to 1,921.65.
Despite the gains, the market finished the week mixed, with the Dow up 0.3 percent, the S&P gaining 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq losing 0.6 percent.
A late sell-off in crude oil futures helped Wall Street solidify its gains in an otherwise uncertain session. A barrel of light crude settled at $49.72, down $2.05, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest level since Feb. 18. Oil prices began the week above $55 per barrel.
The buying was further buoyed by economic data that showed prices and labor costs remained in check. The Commerce Department reported a 0.5 percent increase in income and a 0.6 percent hike in spending for March, and the Labor Department said labor costs for businesses were falling. Both are key inflation readings which bode well for interest rates and the economy.
“I think it’s well-recognized that oil is one of the risk factors in the economic picture, and this drop is helping the market,” said Richard Rippe, chief economist for the Prudential Equity Group. “A decline is both beneficial to the inflation outlook and prospects for demand and growth. Oil prices are still high, no mistaking that. But it helps.”
Analysts attributed the market’s volatile day-to-day swings to nervousness over Tuesday’s Federal Reserve meeting. The Fed is expected to raise the nation’s benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 3 percent, but Wall Street was more interested in the Fed’s take on the economy.
“Investors are very anxious to see if the Fed is going to become more aggressive in its inflation talk,” said Peter Cardillo, chief strategist and senior vice president at S.W. Bach. “There’s been a lot of damage done over the past few weeks, and until we get a new catalyst that can reverse this market sentiment, it’s going to be touch and go.”
Investors hope that a bullish report could lift the market out of its April slump, which saw the Dow fall nearly 3 percent.