3 mins to read

Dow holds gains as broader market slips

MARKET CLOSE: Blue chip stocks on Wall Street held their gains in light trading as investors awaited further signals on US monetary policy and the economic recovery.

Nevil Gibson
Tue, 05 Apr 2011

Blue chip stocks on Wall Street held their gains in light trading as investors awaited further signals on US monetary policy and the economic recovery.

The broader market was static and technology stocks down marginally while on the wider scene oil prices rose to new two-and-a-half year highs as the Libyan conflict continued with no sign of any outcome that will boost supply.

The Dow Jones Industrial Averagewas up 23.31 points, or 0.2%, to 12,400.03 at the close (8am NZT). Wal-Mart Stores gained 1% on a report that it is considering selling groceries online, while Johnson & Johnson climbed 1.1%. Hewlett-Packard dropped 1.6% and Intel 1.2% as technology stocks slipped.

The S&P 500 index was up marginally at 1332.87, as technology stock losses were kept in check by the materials and healthcare sectors while the Nasdaq Composite slipped marginally to 2789.19.

Other markets: Europe steady, Asia up
Major European stock indexes remained steady. Chemicals issues were the region's best performers, led by Rhodia, which soared 48% in Paris after Belgian chemicals and plastics company Solvay agreed to buy it. Solvay added 2.3% in Brussels.

Banks were mostly lower as capital worries continued to weigh on the sector. The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed up 0.1% at 280.26.

The UK's FTSE 100 index added 0.1% to 6016.98, France's CAC-40 index ended down 0.3% at 4042.92, and Germany's DAX fell 0.1% to 7175.33.

Most Asian markets clinched gains, with copper miners boosting Australian shares after China's Minmetals Resources launched a takeover offer for Equinox Minerals.

Minmetals is offering $7 (Canadian) a share ($A6.98) a share and they soared 29% to $A7.35 on the ASX. The news also bolstered other copper miners, with Oz Minerals climbing 2.2%. The most likely other takeover target, PanAust, surged 8.4%. The S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.5% to 4886.8.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average finished 0.1% higher at 9718.89 after a choppy trading session. Stocks were supported by a weakened yen.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.5% to 24150.58 and India's Sensex was up 1.4% at 19,701.73. Markets in China and Taiwan were closed for a public holiday.

Commodities: US oil tops $US108, gold up
Oil futures jumped to their highest level in 2½ years, with Brent crude surpassing $US120 a barrel, as a drawn-out fight in a Libyan oil town squashed hopes that the conflict might end soon.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery in New York  settled 53USc, or 0.5%, higher at $US108.47 a barrel, its highest close since September 22, 2008.

Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange soared $US2.36, or 2%, to $US121.06 a barrel, its highest settlement since August 1, 2008.

Gold futures rose as investors sought to hedge against the threat of inflation amid rising oil prices. The April contract rose $US4.10, or 0.3%, to settle at $US1432.20 an ounce in New York. The most actively traded gold contract, for June delivery, gained $US4.10, settling at $US1433.00.

Silver hit a fresh 31-year high with the May contract rising 76.2USc, or 2%, to settle at $US38.494 an ounce, the highest finish for a most-active contract since February 12, 1980.

Currencies: US dollar rises as risk interest wanes
The US dollar recovered lost ground, edging slightly higher versus the euro and trading flat against the Japanese yen.

Riskier currencies got a boost on Friday from stronger-than-expected US employment data, though investors' appetite for such assets has appeared to wane.

The euro traded at $US1.4211 from $US1.4223 late on Friday and at ¥119.51 against the yen, down 0.3%.

The euro may come under more pressure as the European Central Bank is widely expected on Thursday to deliver its first rate increase since 2008.

The dollar traded at ¥84.07 from ¥84.10. The UK pound bought $US1.6135 against $US1.6115, boosted by a stronger purchasing managers’ index for the construction sector.

Nevil Gibson
Tue, 05 Apr 2011
© All content copyright NBR. Do not reproduce in any form without permission, even if you have a paid subscription.
Dow holds gains as broader market slips