Wall Street closed narrowly mixed Monday as traders wrestled with record-high commodities prices and data that pointed to a continually...
NEW YORK — Wall Street closed narrowly mixed Monday as traders wrestled with record-high commodities prices and data that pointed to a continually weakening economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average — after slumping more than 100 points briefly during afternoon trading — finished down 7.49 to 12,258.90.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, slipped 21 cents to close at $26.99 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, fell $2.12 to $80.67.
Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.71 to 1,331.34, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 12.88 to 2,258.60.
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Investors have been trying to determine whether recent pessimism about the economy has been well-founded or overwrought. The Institute for Supply Management’s index of U.S. manufacturing activity came in Monday at 48.3 — a bit stronger than the 48.1 the market expected, but still, its lowest level in nearly five years.
Furthermore, the Commerce Department reported that construction spending in January fell by 1.7 percent, the steepest amount in 14 years.
“The two economic numbers that came out today were still rather on the negative side and they point to further weakness in economic activity,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners.
But rising commodities prices — although they threaten to eat into consumers’ discretionary spending — encouraged Wall Street to pour money into energy, metals and mining companies. Crude oil surged to a record near $104 a barrel before settling up 61 cents at $102.45, while gold soared to a record near $1,000 an ounce. Silver, corn and soybean prices also hit all-time highs.
Monday’s volatile trading followed a sell-off Friday brought by an unwelcome mix of economic and corporate reports. The news dashed hopes from early last week that the economy would soon show signs of a recovery. The major indexes lost more than 2.5 percent Friday, with the Dow industrials falling 315 points.