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Stocks end mixed as gold, oil climb

Major U.S. indexes reach 13-month highs as commodity-related shares extend a rally.

November 18, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Stocks finished an erratic session mixed Tuesday as declines in retail shares offset another rally in commodity-related issues.

Major stock indexes had their third straight advance, reaching new 13-month highs, but there were more declining shares than winners on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30.46 points, or 0.3%, to 10,437.42. It was the ninth gain in 10 days and the Dow's highest close since Oct. 2, 2008.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 1.02 points, or 0.1%, to 1,110.32, while the Nasdaq composite gained 5.93 points, or 0.3%, to 2,203.78.

A modest rebound in the dollar after three down days kept the appetite for stocks in check. An eight-month slide in the buck has been lifting commodity prices and shares of U.S. exporters.

Investors focused on retail earnings reports for insight into one of the market's biggest worries: how much consumers are spending. Home Depot, Saks and Target all reported better-than-expected third-quarter results but also said they remained cautious ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Home Depot fell 66 cents to $26.99 and Target slid $1.52 to $48.77, while Saks edged up 26 cents to $6.67.

"Despite the dramatic rally in the stock market, we still see the consumer operating at recessionary levels," said Uri Landesman, equity strategist at ING Investment Management in New York.

But continuing worries about the economy haven't deterred equity investors. Although Wall Street's advance has had minor setbacks in recent months, buyers have quickly emerged to keep sell-offs from snowballing.

On Tuesday, a report on industrial production weighed on the market. The Fed said output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities rose 0.1% in October, less than the 0.4% predicted by economists.

Meanwhile, signs of inflation remained muted. The Labor Department's producer price index, which measures inflation at the wholesale level, rose 0.3% in October, less than economists had forecast.

Prices of key commodities closed higher despite the dollar's gain. Near-term gold futures added 20 cents to a record $1,138.80 an ounce. Oil futures rose 24 cents to $79.14 a barrel.

Rising prices for wheat and soybeans may have helped agricultural commodity firms. Fertilizer maker Potash surged $6.42 to $110.60. Seed producer Monsanto rose $2.30 to $77.33.

In the bond market, the 10-year Treasury note yield eased to 3.31% from 3.33% on Monday. The government said foreign investors' purchases of Treasuries rose in September from August.

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