Wall Street rebounded sharply today as another drop in oil prices eased worries over losses at mortgage finance company Fannie Mae. The Dow Jones industrials...
NEW YORK — Wall Street rebounded sharply today as another drop in oil prices eased worries over losses at mortgage finance company Fannie Mae. The Dow Jones industrials rose more than 300 points, more than wiping out their losses from the previous session.
The Dow closed up 302.89, or 2.7 percent, at 11,734.32. The blue chips fell nearly 225 points Thursday on concerns about the financial sector, a weak showing by retailers in July and a spike in weekly unemployment claims. That decline had erased most of the 370-point gain the Dow had logged over the prior two sessions.
The Dow ended the week with a gain of 3.6 percent, and it was the fourth straight week in which the Dow logged triple-digit moves.
Boeing, one of the 30 Dow stocks, soared $3.17, or 5 percent, to close at $67.86. Microsoft, also a Dow stock, rose 74 cents to $28.13.
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Broader indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 30.25, or 2.4 percent, at 1,296.32, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 58.37, or 2.5 percent, to 2,414.10.
A strengthening dollar helped lower the price of a barrel of oil. Light, sweet crude fell $4.82 a barrel to settle at $115.20 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, bringing its decline over the past four weeks to more than $30. Investors see that as a big boost for the economy, and that’s helping them set aside some of their concerns about the financial sector.
Fresh financial worries surfaced early in the session after Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. buyer and backer of home loans, reported a quarterly loss more than three times larger than what Wall Street had expected.
The drop in oil also overshadowed a Labor Department report showing that U.S. workers’ efficiency grew at a slightly slower pace in the second quarter as companies sought to produce more with smaller work forces. But gains in wages and benefits also slowed; keeping compensation in check can help contain inflation.
Philip Dow, managing director of equity strategy at RBC Dain Rauscher in Minneapolis, said that while the strength in the dollar and the resulting drop in oil were attracting buyers, Wall Street’s recent back-and-forth trading illustrates the nervousness of investors.
“We live in a market where people react, they don’t anticipate,” he said. “So you’ve got this market that’s kind of on a seesaw every day reacting to news.”
The dollar’s rise against the euro and yen came after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England separately left their benchmark interest rates unchanged Thursday. With the ECB signaling more rate hikes aren’t likely, the currency wasn’t as attractive as an investment option.
Kelli Hill, a portfolio manager at Ashfield Capital Partners in San Francisco, said a more robust dollar not only can make commodities like oil less expensive but can also offer a much-needed dose of faith in the U.S. markets and economy.
“People want to sell on anything or buy on anything,” she said. “Strengthening in the dollar is a good thing not only for business but also to build back confidence both domestically and internationally.”
She is optimistic the markets will recover and said the rebound could come swiftly once the money sitting on the sidelines gets a sense that the economy is poised to turn higher.
In economic news, the Labor Department reported that the amount an employee produces for every hour on the job grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the second quarter. Economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR had predicted growth would come in at 2.7 percent compared with 2.6 percent in the first quarter. Still, some market watchers said any gains are positive.
Unit labor costs slipped to a 1.3 percent pace in the second quarter, down from 2.5 percent in the first quarter. Wall Street hopes companies can keep a cap on worker pay to avoid a scenario of rising prices and weakening economic growth.
Fannie Mae reported a loss of $2.3 billion, or $2.54 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected the company to report a loss of 68 cents a share. The company also said it would slash its quarterly dividend to 5 cents from 35 cents. Fannie Mae fell 90 cents, or 9 percent, to close at $9.05.
Fannie Mae’s results follow a loss Wednesday from fellow mortgage financier Freddie Mac that was more than three times larger than Wall Street analyst had expected.
Global trading didn’t seem affected by a 4.5 percent drop today in the Shanghai Composite Index. China’s benchmark index fell to its lowest level in nearly 19 months over investor disappointment that a rally tied to the Beijing Olympic Games didn’t develop.
Elsewhere overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 0.3 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 0.3 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.8 percent.