- The Washington Times - Monday, April 10, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed narrowly mixed yesterday as investors looked past rising oil prices and awaited a sample of first-quarter earnings from Alcoa Inc. after the closing bell.

No new economic reports were issued to feed the market’s obsession with whether the Federal Reserve will extend its series of interest rate increases to fight inflation. Recent trading has been skittish amid investors’ split opinions on how much growth the economy can manage.

A fresh rise in crude oil pushed futures above $68 a barrel, as the market grew nervous about mounting political tension over Iran’s nuclear arms program. A barrel of light crude jumped $1.35 to settle at $68.74 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

At the close of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 21.29, or 0.19 percent, to 11,141.33, after gaining as much as 65 points earlier in the day.

Broader stock indicators were narrowly mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 1.12, or 0.09 percent, to 1,296.62, and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 5.75, or 0.25 percent, to 2,333.27.

Bonds were flat after last week’s plunge, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note unchanged at 4.96 percent from late Friday. The dollar was mostly lower against most major currencies; gold prices lingered near a 25-year high of $600 per ounce.

Investors will get their fill of economic data later this week, when reports on import prices, retail sales and consumer confidence are due. Analysts have said those numbers are critical for assessing how consumers feel about the economy as interest rates and energy prices rise.

But strong earnings in the latest quarter could revive Wall Street’s energy since many analysts had set low expectations.

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