U.S. stocks staged a late recovery Thursday and finished mostly higher, led by technology and metals companies. However energy companies continued to fall with the price of oil.
In early trading the Dow Jones industrial average lost as much as 105 points. But those losses faded around noon and stocks finished more or less back where they started. Banks and utility companies slipped, and energy companies took losses as oil prices fell for the fourth day in a row. It has now been almost two months since the stock market has made a big move. The market recorded a tiny loss in August after an extraordinarily quiet month.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average had gained 18.4 points, about 0.1 percent, to 18,419.3. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off less than a point at 2,170.9. The Nasdaq composite had added nearly 14 points, about 0.3 percent, to 5,227.2.
OIL PRICES: As markets closed, benchmark U.S. crude was down $1.20 at $44.11 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, it dropped $1.65. In London, Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell $1.13 to $45.76.
ANALYST’S TAKE: Benchmark U.S. crude is down more than 9 percent this week, but it’s stayed between $40 and $50 a barrel for about five months. Analyst Lowell Yura, a portfolio manager at BMO Global Asset Management, said investors shouldn’t worry about the recent decline because energy companies have had more than a year to strengthen their financial positions in response to lower oil prices. So even if oil prices fall further, it won’t cause much damage to bonds or the broader stock market.
“We’ve had some time now for that sector to prepare for lower oil prices for longer,” he said. “In the long term it’s really hard to imagine a world in which low oil prices are bad for growth.”