Stocks end mostly lower; oil surges

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN -

With lit­tle news to drive trad­ing, ma­jor mar­ket in­dexes drifted mostly lower in a list­less day of trad­ing Tues­day. Bond prices fell, driv­ing a bench­mark in­ter­est rate to its high for the year, and crude oil jumped back above $60 a bar­rel.

John Canally, an in­vest­ment strate­gist at LPL Fi­nan­cial, ex­pects the mar­ket to coast un­til the Fed­eral Re­serve meets next week. “Ba­si­cally, we’re in a wait­ing pe­riod for the Fed,” he said. “To­day is prob­a­bly what you can ex­pect for the rest of the week: a lack of di­rec­tion.”

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex picked up 0.87 of a point, a sliver of a per­cent, to fin­ish at 2,080.15.

The Dow Jones industrial av­er­age slipped 2.51 points, less than 0.1%, to 17,764.04, while the Nas­daq com­pos­ite lost 7.76 points, or 0.2%, to 5,013.87.

The ma­jor in­dexes have lost ground in re­cent weeks as in­vestors spec­u­lated over the Fed­eral Re­serve’s next move. Many think an im­prov­ing econ­omy will push the Fed to raise its bench­mark in­ter­est rate later this year for the first time since the Great Re­ces­sion. A solid jobs re­port on Fri­day sug­gested that the econ­omy has started to re­cover from its win­ter slump.

Prices for U.S. gov­ern­ment bonds dropped Tues­day, send­ing the yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note to a new high for the year, 2.44%. Signs that the econ­omy has started to shake off its win­ter slump have driven longterm in­ter­est rates up over the last two months.

In other trad­ing, United Nat­u­ral Foods, a Moreno Val­ley-based sup­plier to Whole Foods Mar­ket and other stores, slumped 5% af­ter it posted re­sults that fell short of an­a­lysts’ tar­gets late Mon­day. It also cut its full-year profit fore­cast. The com­pany’s stock dropped $2.92 to $60.74.

Ma­jor stock mar­kets in Europe ex­tended their slump. Ger­many’s DAX slipped 0.6%, and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.2%. Bri­tain’s FTSE 100 fin­ished with a loss of 0.5%.

HSBC Hold­ings, Europe’s largest bank by mar­ket value, fell 1% in Lon­don af­ter it said it was slash­ing jobs and shift­ing its fo­cus to­ward Asia, where it has a large and grow­ing busi­ness.

Back in the U.S., pre­cious and industrial met­als fu­tures closed nar­rowly mixed. Gold rose $4 to set­tle at $1,177.60 an ounce, while sil­ver was lit­tle changed at $15.96 an ounce. Cop­per edged up 2 cents to $2.71 a pound.

The price of oil surged as an En­ergy Depart­ment monthly re­port pre­dicted a decline in U.S. out­put this year and next. Bench­mark U.S. crude jumped $2 to close at $60.14 a bar­rel in New York. Brent crude, a bench­mark for in­ter­na­tional oil used by many U.S. re­finer­ies, rose $2.19 to close at $64.88 in Lon­don.

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