- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Prices closed barely mixed on Wall Street yesterday as oil prices dropped sharply and interest rate worries limited the market’s gains.

The major indexes were down for much of the day as investors fretted over high U.S. bond yields and potential rate increases in Europe and Japan.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose in response to a sharp drop in crude oil futures, which declined after a report of strong U.S. petroleum inventories. A barrel of light crude settled at $50.02, down $1.56 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Inventories were at the highest level they’ve been in six or seven years,” said Brian Bush, director of equity research at Stephens Inc.

The Nasdaq Composite Index dipped slightly as Google Inc. continued a streak of erratic trading, falling sharply after the company mistakenly posted an internal financial outlook that included its concerns about narrowing profits.

The Dow rose 25.05, or 0.23 percent, to 11,005.74.

Broader stock indicators were barely mixed. The S&P; 500 Index rose 2.59, or 0.2 percent, to 1,278.47, and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.92, or 0.04 percent, to 2,267.46.

The Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies rose 0.78, or 0.11 percent, to 721.84.

The critical release this week will be tomorrow’s average hourly wage number, said Philip Dow of RBC Dain Rauscher. “If that shows not much in the way of inflation, we could have a pretty good rally here.”

Bonds rose slightly, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.73 percent, down from 4.74 percent late Tuesday. The U.S. dollar was lower against other major currencies. Gold prices dropped.

Google fell $10.57, or 2.9 percent, to $353.88 after it mistakenly posted an internal financial forecast on its Web site. The projections included a reference to management’s concerns about the online search engine leader’s profits narrowing amid tougher competition.

The New York Stock Exchange went public yesterday after closing its $10 billion acquisition of electronic rival Archipelago Holdings Inc. on Tuesday. The new NYSE Group Inc., trading under ticker symbol NYX, rose $15.75 to $80 a share in its first day of trading.

Going public will help the exchange expand into new businesses, such as derivatives trading, and could fund acquisitions as well. Archipelago closed at $64.25 Tuesday, its last day as a stand-alone company.

Electricity producer Dynegy Inc. posted a profit in the fourth quarter, reversing a year-ago loss, but it lowered its financial targets for 2006. Its stock fell 17 cents to $4.78 after it forecast a loss of $65 million to $130 million for the year, versus a previous range of $5 million to $75 million.

Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.63 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.76 percent, Germany’s DAX Index lost 1.15 percent, and France’s CAC-40 slid 0.45 percent.

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