Wall Street closes strong; oil dips below $30

Image: A woman stands near an electronic board showing the Japan’s Nikkei average (top) and the Japanese yen’s exchange rate against the U.S. dollar after the New Year opening ceremony, held to wish for the success of Japan’s stock market, at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) January 4, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya Shino


By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. and European stock investors bought beaten-down shares on Tuesday, at least temporarily looking past another steep drop in oil prices that briefly sent U.S. crude below $30 a barrel.

Major U.S. stock indexes finished strong in a volatile trading session. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index climbed 1.1 percent after four sessions of declines.

Volatile Chinese markets and the deepening oil slide have shaken sentiment in equities at the start of 2016. China stocks closed higher on Tuesday as the central bank tried to stabilize the yuan.

But oil prices slumped more than 2 percent, failing to sustain an initial rally and deepening a 1-1/2-year’slide.

Tuesday’s rally may indicate that equity investors are setting aside oil and China as the main factors driving share prices, said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management Corp in Chicago.

“As the focus becomes more on the upcoming earnings … the focus turns away from China and oil, it allows investors to redeploy their assets into some equities that look reasonable,” Kuby said.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 117.65 points, or 0.72 percent, to 16,516.22, the S&P 500 gained 15.01 points, or 0.78 percent, to 1,938.68 and the Nasdaq Composite added 47.93 points, or 1.03 percent, to 4,685.92.

Shares of Apple rose 1.5 percent after a broker upgrade, helping prop up Wall Street equities. After historically poor starts to the year for major U.S. indexes, investors were awaiting corporate earnings season to start in earnest later in the week, with large banks due to report.

“We saw a big decline in American markets,” Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Massachusetts. “Now, we have seen it be pretty much stable. I think at this point perhaps we stabilize unless we see another down leg from China.”

In Europe, solid corporate updates from retailers boosted shares.

MSCI’s broadest gauge of stocks globally rose 0.3 percent after eight straight down sessions.

U.S. crude prices fell as low as $29.93 before settling down 3.1 percent at $30.44 a barrel.

Benchmark Brent settled down 2.2 percent at $30.86 a barrel. U.S. crude prices have fallen 17 percent in 2016 alone.

Oil has been dragged lower by a glut, China’s weakening economy and stock market turmoil, as well as the strong dollar, which makes it more expensive for those using other currencies to buy oil.

“The momentum is too strong to the bearish side, even if fundamentally nothing has changed,” said Dominick Chirichella, a senior partner at Energy Management Institute.

The U.S. dollar rose for a third straight session as gains on Wall Street and calmer financial markets enhanced appetite for currencies that offer higher yield.

The dollar rose 0.3 percent against a basket of currencies. The euro slipped 0.06 percent against the dollar.

U.S. Treasury prices rose in choppy trading as oil prices resumed their decline, increasing appetite for safe-haven U.S. government debt.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose 13/32 in price to yield 2.112 percent, from 2.158 percent late on Monday.

Spot gold dropped 0.4 percent, falling for a third straight session, but the safe-haven metal pared earlier losses.

(Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Tariro Mzezewa and Catherine Ngai in New York, Jamie McGeever and Simon Falush in London; Editing by Catherine Evans and Nick Zieminski)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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