Wall Street finished an uncertain session mixed yesterday, encouraged by a drop in oil prices but worried about disappointing earnings from...
NEW YORK — Wall Street finished an uncertain session mixed yesterday, encouraged by a drop in oil prices but worried about disappointing earnings from Time Warner.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.85, or 0.13 percent, to 10,697.59.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, gained 44 cents to close at $27.25 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, advanced 32 cents to $66.65.
Broader indicators were mixed.
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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.92 to 1,245.04, reaching a four-year high for the fourth time in six sessions. The Nasdaq composite index lost 1.34 to 2,216.81.
With the Labor Department’s jobs report due tomorrow and the Federal Reserve’s latest decision on interest rates Tuesday, investors were considered unlikely to bid stocks much higher in the meantime.
“I think this market is just going to have to grind higher, little by little, and probably sell off a little here and there, at least until the Fed meeting,” said Scott Wren, equity strategist for A.G. Edwards & Sons.
While Time Warner’s worse-than-expected results pressured stocks, investors were relieved by the drop in oil futures, coming as the government’s latest petroleum inventory report showed a slight rise in crude stockpiles. After reaching a new intraday record of $62.50 early in the session, a barrel of light crude settled at $60.86, down $1.03, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Investors were disappointed in the latest reading of the Institute for Supply Management’s services index. The ISM index, which measures growth in the service sector of the economy, fell to 60.5 in July, lower than the 61 reading expected by economists and down from 62.2 in June.
Even as oil prices fell, some analysts worried that the bullish earnings season — more than two-thirds of companies have exceeded Wall Street’s profit forecasts — is masking the effects that high energy prices could have on third- and fourth-quarter earnings.
“This market has reacted to earnings news without thinking about the effects that $60 a barrel oil could have on the third and fourth quarters and beyond,” said Brian Bruce, director of global investments at PanAgora Asset Management in Boston. “The good news from companies still continues to create a halo effect around stocks, but if $60 is the new equilibrium for oil prices, that’ll create a problem down the road.”
Time Warner fell 15 cents to $17.27 after the media conglomerate said it will set aside $3 billion to settle lawsuits filed by investors angry over the 2000 merger with America Online. The company also posted earnings that, after one-time charges, were short of Wall Street’s expectations by a penny per share.