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Jump in crude oil prices helps lift stock market

October 13, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Key stock indexes finished mixed Monday as investors waiting for earnings reports to flow in traded cautiously.

The Dow Jones industrials climbed 21 points to a fresh closing high for the year. During the session the blue-chip index jumped above the 9,900-point level but fell back late in the day.

Volume was light because of the Columbus Day holiday. Bond markets were closed, and there were no economic reports.

A weaker dollar and a rise in oil prices above $73 a barrel drove energy and material stocks higher, but weakness in technology and industrial shares held the market back.

Stocks got an early boost from a better-than-expected profit report from Dutch company Royal Philips Electronics.

Investors looked ahead to a flurry of earnings reports this week from major companies, including Intel, Johnson & Johnson, IBM and General Electric. Big U.S. banks -- including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs Group, Citigroup and Bank of America -- are scheduled to issue reports as well.

The Dow traded as high as 9,931, just 69 points away from 10,000, a level not seen in a year. The index has risen for three straight sessions and five of the last six.

The Dow closed up 20.86 points, or 0.2%, at 9,885.80. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.70 points, or 0.4%, to 1,076.19. Both indexes had their highest close in a year.

The Nasdaq composite index edged down 0.14 of a point to 2,139.14.

Advancing stocks narrowly outpaced declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange.

Better-than-expected first-quarter results from banks set off the stock market's rally seven months ago, and even stronger second-quarter results helped fortify the rally in July.

Analysts say companies' earnings reports will determine where the market heads next. If results exceed expectations and show companies are increasing their earnings by boosting sales and not just cutting costs, stocks could continue their push higher.

"There's still room here for equities to move up on the back of better-than-expected results," said Craig Peckham, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. "I don't think that positive surprises are fully priced in."

The S&P 500 index is up 59% since hitting a 12-year low in March.

In other market highlights Monday:

* Banks were among the big gainers as investors awaited their results. Wells Fargo rose 3.7%. Citigroup climbed 3%.

* The dollar mostly fell against other major currencies, helping to drive commodity prices higher.

* Gold futures rose $8.90 to $1,056.70 an ounce, while oil rose $1.50 to $73.27 a barrel.

* In overseas trading, key stock indexes rose 0.9% in Britain, 1.3% in Germany and 1.2% in France. Hong Kong shares fell 0.9%, and Japan's market was closed for a holiday.

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