U.S. Stock Indexes Waver As Oil Rebound Cools
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes flipped from slight losses to gains on Wednesday as a four-day rally in oil cools off. Stronger profits for Disney drove its stock higher, pulling the Dow Jones industrial average up.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow was up 57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,724 as of 12 noon Eastern time. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped one point, a sliver of a percent, to 2,049, and the Nasdaq composite rose four points to 4,732.
CRUDE: A recent rebound in oil prices came to an end as the benchmark contract for U.S. crude fell $2.65, or 5 percent, to $50.40. One factor driving trading was a report that U.S. crude inventories jumped by 6 million barrels last week, more than analysts had forecast. Crude prices had rallied 19 percent over the previous four days as producers canceled exploration projects and cut the number of rigs drilling.
WHAT'S GOING ON? "I think there's a sense of uneasiness and lack of conviction among investors right now," said Terry Sandven, senior equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "You see that in the split personality of the market."
Over the past six trading days, the market has had three gains and three losses. Sandven said the volatility is tied to investors' uncertainty over how strong corporate earnings are. Falling oil prices and a stronger dollar have pinched companies' profits, forcing investors to second-guess their expectations.
DISNEY: Strong results from theme parks, television channels and sales of merchandise tied to its "Frozen" move drove Walt Disney's earnings up 19 percent. Late Tuesday, Disney reported profit and revenue that topped Wall Street's estimates for the quarter. Its stock surged $7.43, or 8 percent, to $101.52.
Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, said the company was not seeing a hit to attendance from the measles outbreak linked last month to Disney's Southern California parks.
OVERALL: The fourth-quarter earnings season looks better than it did just two weeks ago. Nearly three out of four big companies have turned in higher profits than analysts had expected, putting overall earnings on track to rise nearly 7 percent for the quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ. Two weeks ago, the expected increase was just 4 percent.
MERGER: Staples announced that it's buying Office Depot for $6 billion in a widely anticipated merger of the two largest office supply retailers. The cash-and-stock deal comes a little more than a year after Office Depot merged with OfficeMax and still needs regulators' approval. Staples dropped $2.02, or 11 percent, to an even $17.
STEADY: Payroll processor ADP said that U.S. companies added 213,000 jobs last month. The survey of private sector hiring gives a hint of the strength of the labor market before the government's monthly jobs report, which comes out Friday. Economists estimate that American employers added 230,000 workers to their payrolls in January, according to FactSet.
EUROPE: France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent and Germany's DAX edged up 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 sank 0.2 percent.
ASIA'S DAY: In Japan, the Nikkei 225 stock index surged 2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent and South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.6 percent.
CURRENCIES: The euro was little changed at $1.1417. The dollar slipped to 117.61 yen from 117.74 yen.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices sank, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 1.83 percent.
– by AP Reporter Matthew Craft