WTI Crude
48.61
Brent Crude
50.78
Natural Gas
3.24

Market Rises as Fuel Prices Pick Up

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The stock market reversed steep declines and ended slightly higher on Wednesday, thanks in part to a pickup in oil and gas stocks.

Indexes continue to be weighed down by bank stocks, which remain under pressure because of economic unease and worries about the amount of loans on their books to struggling oil and gas companies.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose 8.53 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,929.80, and the Nasdaq composite rose 39.02 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,542.61. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 53.21 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,484.99.

Stocks had been lower earlier in the day, with the Dow down as much as 265 points. However, as oil prices recovered through the day, so did energy stocks and the broader market.

After being down nearly 4 percent earlier, oil closed up 28 cents, or 1 percent, to $32.15 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price oil internationally, rose $1.14, or 3.4 percent, to $34.41 a barrel in London. The energy component of the S.&P. 500, which had been down roughly 2 percent, closed up 1 percent.

“As goes oil, so goes everything,” said Ian Winer, co-head of equities trading at Wedbush Securities.

The market’s only area of weakness by the end of trading was the financial sector. Bank stocks had some of the biggest losses, and the financial services component of the S.&P. 500 lost 0.8 percent.

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Despite substantial gains in recent days, many investors remain hesitant, analysts say. Bank stocks are often a proxy for how well the economy is expected to do, because loans can sour during a slowdown. While oil rose on Wednesday, downward pressure on commodity prices has not relented.

Crude fell 4 percent on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, told a meeting of energy leaders in Houston that production cuts aimed at supporting falling crude prices wouldn’t work. He said that the market should instead let some operators go out of business.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.75 percent from 1.72 percent.

In other energy trading, heating oil rose 3.7 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $1.059 a gallon, wholesale gasoline futures rose 4.4 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $1.01 a gallon and natural gas fell 0.4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $1.778 per thousand cubic feet.

In metals trading, gold closed up $16.40 to $1,239.10 an ounce, silver rose 5.2 cents to $15.33 an ounce and high-grade copper futures fell 0.8 cents to $2.101 a pound.

The dollar fell to 111.93 yen from 112.03 yen in the previous day’s trading. The euro was mostly unchanged at $1.10003.


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