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Stocks mixed as oil hits $67 a barrel

Associated Press

Wall Street ended a volatile session mixed Wednesday as investors welcomed new government data showing a reinvigorated industrial sector but wrestled with a jump in oil prices that briefly sent crude futures above $67 per barrel.

Crude oil futures surged higher after the Energy Department reported a larger-than-expected drawdown in the nation’s crude oil reserves, although the report also showed a surprise surplus in gasoline inventories. A barrel of light crude was quoted at $66.35, up $1.28, on the New York Mercantile Exchange after reaching $67.40.

The inventory report cost the market early gains that were spurred by the Commerce Department’s bullish report on durable goods, big-ticket manufactured items made to last at least three years. Durable goods orders shot up 3.3 percent in August after falling 5.3 percent in July. Economists had expected just minimal gains.

For analysts, the late session rally showed the market’s overall strength in the face of continuing uncertainty over energy prices, a slowdown in consumer spending and ever-higher interest rates.

“There are still some significant headwinds out there, but I have to say, the market has held up pretty well,” said Russ Koesterich, senior portfolio manager at Barclays Global Investments in San Francisco. “But … we’re still stuck in the same trading range we’ve seen for months, and it’ll take better news to break out of it.”

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 16.88, or 0.16 percent, to 10,473.09.

Broader stock indicators were narrowly mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 1.23, or 0.1 percent, to 1,216.89, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 1.02, or 0.05 percent, to 2,115.40.

Bonds rallied, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.26 percent from 4.29 percent late Tuesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices ticked higher.

While the market has been tracking closely to fluctuation in oil prices, the long-term effects of higher energy costs have yet to cycle through much of the economy, and could show up later in the year, the time when investors hope for their annual “Santa Claus” rally in November and December. If high gasoline and heating costs erode holiday spending, that rally could be in jeopardy.

Declining issues barely outnumbered advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 2.13 billion shares, compared with 1.98 billion traded on Tuesday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 3.13, or 0.47 percent, to 656.04.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 0.95 percent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 closed up 0.87 percent, France’s CAC-40 climbed 1.16 percent for the session, and Germany’s DAX index surged 1.67 percent.

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