FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2014, file photo, a man walks to work on Wall Street, near the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. Global stocks mostly fell on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, and the price of oil hit a two-year high after a spate of high-profile arrests in Saudi Arabia unnerved some investors and suggested the kingdom could be more bullish in pursuing output cuts. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Spurt in oil prices sends US stock indexes to record highs

May 15, 2017 - 2:42 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A spurt in oil prices on Monday revived energy stocks, which have been among the year's worst performers, and helped push the Standard & Poor's 500 index to a record high.

The pace for markets around the world, though, remained sluggish. For weeks, markets have made only modest moves as investors shrugged off a long series of potential concerns.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 8.87 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,399.77, as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. That's a hair above its record closing level of 2,399.63, which was set last week. Earlier on Monday, the index touched 2,404 for the first time.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 75 points, or 0.4 percent, to 20,971, the Nasdaq composite gained 19, or 0.3 percent, to 6,140 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks rose 9 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,392.

OIL SPURT: Crude jumped on expectations that the global oil glut may ease. A wide group of oil-producing countries around the world has already cut their production in hopes of supporting the price of oil, and Russia and Saudi Arabia said they want to extend the cuts through the first three months of 2018. Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.01, or 2.1 percent, to settle at $48.85 per barrel. It's hasn't topped $50 in nearly three weeks.

The price of oil has swung sharply in recent years, from more than $100 three years ago to less than $30 last year, as concerns wax and wane that supplies will overwhelm demand. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.23 to $52.16 per barrel on Monday.

HIGHER ENERGY STOCKS: The rise in oil's price pushed energy stocks in the S&P 500 to a 0.6 percent gain, one of the largest among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

It's the latest swing for a group of stocks that has tracked the price of oil higher and mostly lower in recent years. Energy stocks in the S&P 500 are still down nearly 10 percent for 2017, while the overall index has climbed 7 percent.

Halliburton rose $1.21, or 2.7 percent, to $46.35 for one of Monday's biggest gains in the S&P 500. Transocean rose 22 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $10.84.

WHAT, ME WORRY? Markets around the world made only modest moves Monday, continuing a weekslong trend.

South Korean stocks rose even after North Korea launched a new type of missile over the weekend and its leader promised more missile tests. The worldwide "ransomware" cyberattack continued to spread on Monday, which sent cybersecurity stocks like FireEye and Symantec higher, while politicians in Washington wonder whether Republicans' odds of implementing tax cuts and other pro-business policies have diminished.

For the most part, signs of a strengthening global economy and improving corporate profits have been enough to allay investors' fears and push markets to new heights. Profits have been rallying not only in the United States but also in Europe and other areas that have been struggling for years.

TOO PLACID? The recent run of calmness is a sharp turnaround from the start of last year, when twitchy investors were quick to sell on worries about the strength of the global economy.

"We do really see this prevailing sense of complacency," said Jon Adams, senior investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management. "I don't think we see any dark clouds on the horizon, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a 5 to 10 percent drawdown from now to year-end."

Adams expects corporate profits to keep improving, which should help support stocks, but he points to several events that could jolt markets. Besides the uncertainty about what will happen on the Korean peninsula or in Washington, upcoming elections in the United Kingdom, France and potentially Italy could also throw markets from their lazy ride.

MARKETS ABROAD: In Europe, France's CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.3 percent and the FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index slipped 0.1 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.9 percent. South Korea's Kospi index rose 0.2 percent.

COMMODITIES: The price of gold rose $2.30 to settle at $1,230 per ounce, silver rose 20 cents to $16.60 per ounce and copper gained nearly 2 cents to $2.54 per pound.

Natural gas fell 8 cents to $3.35 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.51 per gallon and wholesale gasoline climbed 2 cents to $1.60 per gallon.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.0974 from $1.0924 late Friday. The dollar rose to 113.71 Japanese yen from 113.41 yen, and the pound rose to $1.2891 from $1.2879.

YIELDS: The 10-year Treasury yield ticked up to 2.34 percent from 2.33 percent late Friday. The 30-year yield rose to 3.01 percent from 2.99 percent late Friday, while the two-year yield held steady at 1.29 percent.

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