Wall Street ended a volatile session marginally higher Wednesday after stocks first surged on robust retail sales numbers but pared their gains as oil prices spiked.
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street ended a volatile session marginally higher Wednesday after stocks first surged on robust retail sales numbers but pared their gains as oil prices spiked.
The Energy Department reported crude inventories fell for a third straight week, which sent oil and gasoline prices sharply higher. Less supply means both oil and gas could cost more, and that was viewed by the stock market as an obstacle to consumer spending.
The supplies data essentially offset a robust retail sales report that showed strong consumer spending in November. Investors had sent stocks higher on belief higher household spending will drive corporate profits, and help push economic growth.
This helped soothe Wall Street’s concerns that the economy is moderating too fast, but also indicated the Federal Reserve won’t cut interest rates anytime soon. The report caused a sell off in the Treasury bond market—which had been betting on an interest rate cut as soon as the first quarter.
“I think the oil report is more noise in the background that can drive things intraday, but doesn’t rule in the long term,” said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Financial Services Group. “The real data point is how the next two weeks of the shopping season is, which will give us a better idea of the strength of the consumer and an idea of when the Fed may ease next.”
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average added 1.92, or 0.02 percent, to 12,317.50, having pulled back after reaching a new trading high of 12,368.61 earlier in the session.
Broader indicators edged higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 1.66, or 0.12 percent, at 1,413.22, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.81, or 0.03 percent, to 2,432.41.