Stocks closed mixed today, with Wall Street exhausted from last week's swoon and still nervous about losses at banks and elevated energy...
NEW YORK — Stocks closed mixed today, with Wall Street exhausted from last week’s swoon and still nervous about losses at banks and elevated energy costs.
The Dow Jones industrials rose 70.51 to 12,280.32 after Friday’s 395-point rout, which was the worst tumble on Wall Street in 15 months. During trading today, the blue-chip index rose more than 100 points, fell briefly into negative territory, and then rebounded again.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 22 cents to close at $27.71 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 79 cents to $73.95.
Broader stock indicators finished mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.08 to 1,361.76, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 15.10 to 2,459.46.
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A pullback in crude oil prices provided only limited relief, as investors largely stuck to the stocks of large companies. Blue-chips are regarded as safer assets during times of economic uncertainty.
“It’s hard for anyone to jump in whole hog after Friday,” said Thomas Lee, equities analyst at JPMorgan. Soaring energy prices, as well as a huge jump in the unemployment rate, sent the Dow Jones industrial average plunging Friday.
“I think everyone’s going to watch oil, and I think it’s going to paralyze us for a while,” Lee said.
Crude prices dipped about $4 to below $135 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange today, but only after Friday’s $11-a-barrel surge to a record. With U.S. gasoline topping $4 a gallon, consumers’ ballooning energy bills could force them to keep paring back spending on other items.
The financial sector was particularly weak today, after Lehman Brothers posted an unexpectedly large quarterly loss of $2.8 billion — the investment bank’s first since it spun off from American Express in 1994. The poor performance added to uncertainty about how long it will take the ailing financial sector to recover from the mortgage market’s near collapse.
“The financials are a key factor in today’s market. It almost seems we’re stuck in this range, trying to figure out when the end of this whole financial crisis is over,” said Anthony Conroy, managing director and head trader for BNY ConvergEx Group.
Choppiness in the markets was aggravated by low trading volumes.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume amounted to a light 1.35 billion shares.