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Stocks decline as storm pressures insurers and oil companies

Trader Gregory Rowe works at the NYSE, Aug.

Trader Gregory Rowe works at the NYSE, Aug. 16, 2017.  Credit: AP / Richard Drew

U.S. stocks finished little changed on Monday as investors focused on the effects of Tropical Storm Harvey. Insurance companies and oil drillers stumbled while refineries rose along with gasoline prices.

With August coming to a close, Monday was one of the quietest days of the year on Wall Street.

Lacking major economic news, investors mostly focused on Harvey, which continues to hit parts of the Gulf Coast with historically heavy rains. Large parts of the energy and petrochemical industries are based there and companies with a lot of stores in the area stand to lose business. While gas price spikes will be temporary, other effects of the storm will last for years.

“There will be ripple effects that everyone is going to feel,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer for BMO Capital Markets. He said that could include higher insurance premiums, as the storm is likely to cause tens of billions of dollars in damage. Ablin added that the storm might affect interest rates as well, as the Federal Reserve might hesitate to raise interest rates if they think the storm will slow the economy significantly.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up less than 0.1 percent, to 2,444.24. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 5.27 points to 21,808.40. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.3 percent, to 6,283.02. — AP

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