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Business

Stocks, Starting September on a Quiet Note, Notch Tiny Gains

Oil prices declined for the fourth day in a row

Trader Gordon Charlop. center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. The stock market is starting off September with slight gains, led by retailers and other consumer stocks, photo: AP/Richard Drew
1 year ago

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks staged a late recovery Thursday and finished mostly higher, led by technology and metals companies. However, energy companies continued to fall with the price of oil.

In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost as much as 105 points. But those losses faded around noon and stocks finished more or less back where they started. Banks and utility companies slipped, and energy companies took losses as oil prices fell for the fourth day in a row.

It has now been almost two months since the stock market has made a big move. The market recorded a tiny loss in August after an extraordinarily quiet month.

Benchmark U.S. crude is down more than 9 percent this week, but it’s stayed between $40 and $50 a barrel for about five months. Lowell Yura, a portfolio manager at BMO Global Asset Management, said investors shouldn’t worry about the recent decline because energy companies have had more than a year to strengthen their financial positions in response to lower oil prices. So even if oil prices fall further, it won’t cause much damage to bonds or the broader stock market.

“We’ve had some time now for that sector to prepare for lower oil prices for longer,” he said. “In the long term it’s really hard to imagine a world in which low oil prices are bad for growth.”

The Dow rose 18.42 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,419.30. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 0.09 points to 2,170.86. The Nasdaq composite gained 13.99 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,227.21.

U.S. crude oil gave up $1.54, or 3.4 percent, to $43.16 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, fell $1.44, or 3.1 percent, to $45.45 a barrel in London. Valero Energy lost $1.06, or 1.9 percent, to $54.29.

Diamond Offshore Drilling sank after the company said Brazilian oil company Petrobras is terminating a contract with it. Diamond said the contract was scheduled to end in October 2018, and that it does not believe Petrobras’ actions are legal. Its shares lost $1.96, or 10.6 percent, to $16.51.

Technology companies made the biggest gains. Hewlett Packard Enterprise gained 68 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $22.16. Graphics chipmaker Nvidia said it will work with Chinese e-commerce company Baidu to develop an autonomous driving system. Nvidia picked up $1.81, or 3 percent, to $63.15 and Baidu rose $5.55, or 3.2 percent, to $176.62.

Campbell Soup fell after disappointing results from the company’s fresh products unit. The company said carrot sales fell because of a premature harvest that resulted in smaller vegetables, while a recall hurt sales of its Bolthouse Farms beverages. The maker of canned soups, Pepperidge Farm cookies and V8 juices has been trying to capitalize on a growing desire for fresh foods. Its stock slid $3.81, or 6.3 percent, to $56.91.

Costco stock fell after the company reported weak sales for August. The wholesale club operator said sales at older stores were unchanged compared with last year, while analysts expected some growth. The stock gave up $5.88, or 3.6 percent, to $156.21.

Materials companies made some of the largest gains. Gold producer Newmont Mining jumped $1.19, or 3.1 percent, to $39.43 and steel maker Nucor rose 79 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $49.30.

Casino companies rose after spending on gambling in Macau rose for the first time in more than two years. The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said gross revenue from gambling rose 1.1 percent in August. Gambling revenue in Macau plunged 34 percent last year and it’s down about 9 percent this year. Wynn Resorts rose $3.85, or 4.3 percent, to $93.17 and Las Vegas Sands gained $3.60, or 7.2 percent, to $53.81.

Cable company Charter Communications, which recently bought Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, rose after S&P Dow Jones said the company will be added to the Standard & Poor’s 500 index next week. Charter gained $11.61, or 4.5 percent, to $268.82.

U.S. manufacturing shrank in August for the first time since February as orders and output fell and factories cut jobs. However there were signs that the weak global economy won’t hurt U.S. manufacturers as much. Chinese factory managers said they expect to do more business and European manufacturers reported continued growth.

“There’s no real sign that we’re near the end of a cycle,” said Yura, of BMO Global Asset Management.

U.S. government bond prices didn’t move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.57 percent from 1.58 percent. The dollar fell to 103.32 yen from 103.44 yen and the euro rose to $1.1197 from $1.1162.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline dropped 6 cents to $1.27 a gallon. Heating oil fell 4 cents to $1.38 a gallon. Natural gas fell 10 cents to $2.79 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The price of gold rose $5.70 to $1,317.10 an ounce. Silver jumped 24 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $18.94 an ounce. Copper remained at $2.08 a pound.

Germany’s DAX fell 0.6 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent. The CAC 40 in France was little changed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.2 percent up. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.8 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi fell 0.1 percent.

MARLEY JAY

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