Wednesday 20 March, 2019

US stocks claw back some of their big losses; oil slides

AP photo of the New York Stock Exchange

AP photo of the New York Stock Exchange

US stocks climbed Tuesday morning, putting at least a temporary halt to the steep market losses that circled the globe in prior days. Asian markets sank sharply earlier in the day, but European markets were mixed.

The price of crude oil continued its sharp slide, and investors are waiting to hear from the Federal Reserve, which begins a two-day meeting on interest rates. Most economists expect it to raise short-term rates by another quarter of a percentage point, but investors hope that it will signal a slower pace of increases ahead.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 20 points, or 0.8 percent, at 2,566, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The index had two steep losses of at least 1.9 percent in the two prior days, and it closed Monday at its lowest since two Octobers ago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 248, or 1.1 percent, to 23,841, and the Nasdaq composite gained 69, or 1 percent, to 6,822.

TAKING OFF: Boeing surged to one of the market's biggest gains after it raised its dividend 20 percent and increased its stock buyback program by $2 billion to $20 billion. Boeing's stock has struggled recently on worries that the global trade war will hit its profits particularly hard.

Boeing rose 4.4 percent to $330.12.

EARNINGS BOOST: Oracle jumped 3.4 percent to $47.30 after reporting stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. Companies across the country have been doing similarly throughout this year, but investors have often given the better-than-expected performances less attention than their worries about slowing economic growth, higher interest rates and global trade tensions.

FED MEETING: Most economists expect the Fed to raise its short-term interest rate to a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent. The rate helps set borrowing costs for various types of loans, and higher rates can slow economic growth and make stocks look relatively less attractive.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.3 percent, while France's CAC 40 dripped 0.3 percent and the FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.6 percent.

Losses were more severe in Asia. The Nikkei 225 in Japan lost 1.8 percent, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 1 percent and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.4 percent.

COMMODITIES: The price of oil tumbled on worries about oversupply and softening growth in China, which could hit demand. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped $1.36 to $48.84 per barrel. On Monday it closed below $50 a barrel for the first time in 14 months. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up $1.15 to $58.46 per barrel.

Gold dipped $1.50 to $1,250.30 per ounce.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped to 2.84 percent from 2.85 percent late Monday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 112.56 Japanese yen from 112.75 yen late Monday. The euro rose to $1.1373 from $1.1350, and the British pound rose to $1.2646 from $1.2629.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: