Wall Street stumbled through another volatile session but ended with a respectable gain Thursday after a multibillion-dollar deal between...
NEW YORK — Wall Street stumbled through another volatile session but ended with a respectable gain Thursday after a multibillion-dollar deal between Dow Chemical and rival Rohm & Haas helped offset concerns about the financial sector and energy costs.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished up 81.58 at 11,229.02. But oil’s resurgence back above $141 a barrel briefly pulled the Dow into negative territory in afternoon trading.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 22 cents to close at $22.45 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 40 cents to $65.99.
Broader stock indicators also finished higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 8.70 to 1,253.39, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 22.96 to 2,257.85.
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The market still struggled with its twin trouble spots: the financial sector and the price of oil.
Shares of mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plunged on worries they could be forced to sell more new shares than anticipated to compensate for losses from the housing slump. Fannie shares fell nearly 14 percent, and Freddie shares dropped more than 22 percent. Investment banks were also weak as Lehman Brothers lost more than 12 percent.
The declines in financials came after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Congress that Wall Street can’t expect the government to bail out troubled financial companies. “For market discipline to effectively constrain risk, financial institutions must be allowed to fail,” Paulson said.
Meanwhile, crude-oil prices rebounded by more than $5 to more than $141 a barrel.
Dow Chemical’s $15 billion all-cash acquisition of specialty chemicals maker Rohm & Haas gave investors reason to buy, but they remained cautious ahead of quarterly earnings, in particular from financials, due next week.
“Investors lack real clarity from the banks,” said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York. “It’s this uncertainty that keeps investors out of the market, so what you get is a situation where you’re reacting to news. There are a lot of crosscurrents.”