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Stocks open lower after Goldman, Citi earnings

October 16, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — A late surge gave stocks modest gains for the day Thursday as a jump in the price of oil lifted the energy sector and offset weakness in bank shares.

The major indexes spent most of the day lower but ended with fresh one-year highs a day after strong profit reports from JPMorgan Chase and Intel vaulted the Dow Jones industrials back above the 10,000 level. The Dow tacked on another 47 points.

The market rallied in the session's final 15 minutes as investors looked ahead to earnings reports that arrived after the bell from Google, IBM and chip maker Advanced Micro Devices. All three topped expectations and could help the market extend its gains if reports due today from General Electric and Bank of America aren't spoilers.

Analysts say the market's late bounce indicates that many investors are still looking to get into the market.

"People are trying to buy on the dips," said Andrew Neale, partner and portfolio manager at Fogel Neale Partners in New York. "There is so much money waiting on the sidelines."

A rise in oil prices to their highest level in nearly a year lifted energy stocks and, in turn, the overall market despite declines in shares of financial companies, the only broad industry group to lose value Thursday.

Earnings from Goldman Sachs Group and Citigroup disappointed investors a day after JPMorgan Chase set a high bar. Goldman's net income of $3.19 billion beat expectations on strong trading profits, but its investment banking revenues fell. Citigroup reported a smaller loss than expected but said credit losses remained high.

Citigroup shares sank 5%, while Goldman fell 1.9%.

Investors drew some comfort from a government report that said new unemployment claims fell more than expected last week.

"Things are going in the right direction but the fundamental economic improvement is slow," said Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.

The Dow rose 47.08 points, or 0.5%, to 10,062.94, its highest close since Oct. 3 last year. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.54 points, or 0.4%, to 1,096.56. The Nasdaq composite index edged up 1.06 points, or 0.1%, to 2,173.29.

Advancing stocks narrowly outpaced those that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Crude oil jumped $2.40 to settle at $77.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the government said refiners cut production last week.

That lifted energy stocks. Refiner Tesoro shot up 8.6%, while Chevron rose 1.6%.

The Labor Department said the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment insurance fell to its lowest level since January. First-time claims for jobless benefits dropped to 514,000, better than the 525,000 economists were expecting.

Yields on Treasury bonds climbed on the signs of improvement in the economy. The benchmark 10-year T-note rose to 3.46% from 3.42% late Wednesday.

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