Wall Street finished mixed in fickle trading Wednesday, with investors still unsettled about the economy ahead of Friday's employment report...
NEW YORK — Wall Street finished mixed in fickle trading Wednesday, with investors still unsettled about the economy ahead of Friday’s employment report and only somewhat relieved about sliding commodities prices.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.96 to 11,532.88, after rising by as many as 37 points and falling by as many as 100.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, slipped 20 cents to close at $26.90 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, added 20 cents to $66.07.
Broader stock indicators slipped. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.60 to 1,274.98, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 15.51 to 2,333.73.
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The Commerce Department gave the market just modest comfort when it said orders for manufactured products rose by 1.3 percent in July. The figure was higher than the 0.8 percent predicted by economists polled by Thomson Financial/IFR; the department also upwardly revised its June reading to an increase of 2.1 percent.
However, many traders shrugged off the report as old news, given that it is now September. With automakers releasing sluggish August sales and the Federal Reserve reporting weak economic activity throughout the nation, the market proceeded cautiously.
A massive pullback in commodities since earlier in the summer has helped alleviate some of Wall Street’s inflation worries. Oil briefly slid below $108 a barrel Wednesday as the dollar strengthened and Hurricane Gustav appeared to leave oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico mostly undamaged.
Light, sweet crude futures fell 36 cents to settle at $109.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The dollar rose against the euro and pound, but weakened against the yen.
Investors are realizing that oil has fallen partly because global demand growth is waning — bad news not only for energy companies, but also for the technology and industrial sectors.
On Tuesday, stocks gave up a huge early advance only to close lower, as investors’ enthusiasm about oil’s sell-off gave way to concerns about the economy in the United States and abroad.