- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — A drop in crude oil futures pushed stocks modestly higher Wednesday, helped by government predictions of lower gas prices.

Wall Street was encouraged when oil prices fell below $65 per barrel as more Gulf Coast production facilities resumed operations, and traders saw that Katrina’s damage to petroleum infrastructure was less than originally feared. A barrel of light crude settled at $64.25, down $1.59, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Large-cap stocks got a bounce after the Energy Information Administration said yesterday that it sees U.S. retail gasoline prices falling to $2.58 a gallon in the fourth quarter. The administration also slashed its forecasts for growth in U.S. oil demand this year and next, saying higher costs would deter consumption.

Stocks moved in a narrow band, but trading was choppy as investors took each new piece of news and tried to parse the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

“To an extent, we’re all just groping in the dark to make sense of all the news, all the stories, all the data,” said Jack Caffrey, equities strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, adding that much of the data from prior months has been made obsolete by last week. “What are the ripple effects? What will the costs be on a cost front, a delivery front and a psychology front?”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 44.26, or 0.42 percent, to 10,633.50. On Tuesday, the Dow rose 141.87, its best one-day gain since July 8.

Broader indicators were slightly higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.97, or 0.24 percent, to 1,236.36, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 5.17, or 0.24 percent, to 2,172.03.

Bonds continued the previous session’s sell-off, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.14 percent from 4.09 percent late Tuesday. The dollar was mixed against other currencies. Gold prices fell.

In company news, Kerr-McGee Corp. shares rose $1.37 to $90.27 after it said its deep-water oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico are producing at pre-hurricane levels.

Boston Scientific Corp. fell $1.95 to $24.26 after it said its third-quarter earnings and revenue will fall short of its expectations. The warning sent the medical-device maker’s shares down to a two-year low.

Declining issues led advancers by roughly 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, where preliminary consolidated volume was 2.05 billion shares.

, up from 1.93 billion for the same period Tuesday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.84, or 0.42 percent, to 677.32.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 0.06 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.13 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 0.4 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.3 percent.

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