- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NEW YORK | A jump in oil costs sent investors rushing to put money into the stock market in the final days of the second quarter.

Energy, industrial and materials stocks pulled the market higher in light trading Monday as investors raced to keep up with the gains in oil.

Crude rose $2.33 to settle at $71.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after China said it would boost oil reserves, and Nigerian militants partly shut down an offshore oil platform.

With the quarter’s end coming up on Tuesday, some money managers were buying stocks to bolster their returns. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is up 16.2 percent since the start of the April-June quarter.

Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners LLC in New York, said that some of the day’s gains reflected “window dressing” of portfolios and that the gains in energy helped lift the overall market.

With some of the gains attributable to end-of-the-quarter technical maneuvering by portfolio managers, analysts cautioned against seeing the upswing as a sign of conviction among investors that it was time to move into the market ahead of an economic bounce. Stocks seesawed in the early going but jumped after oil gained.

After running the market up more than 30 percent since March on a litany of “less bad” economic data, investors have become more cautious about the pace of the economy’s recovery in recent weeks and are looking for more concrete signs of growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 90.99, or 1.1 percent, to 8,529.38. The S&P; 500 rose 8.33, or 0.9 percent, to 927.23, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 5.84, or 0.3 percent, to 1,844.06. Stocks ended last week mixed.

There was little economic news Monday, but the week, which is abbreviated by the Independence Day holiday on Friday, brings key data that will give investors a better sense of where the economy is headed.

Of particular importance is the government’s monthly employment report, due Thursday. Though considered a lagging indicator of the country’s economic health, the unemployment rate is still one of the most closely watched gauges of the economy.

Investors also will get readings on consumer confidence and manufacturing this week.

The Dow is up 30.3 percent from a 12-year low on March 9, though it has fallen 3.1 percent from a five-month high on June 12. The blue chips are now down only 2.8 percent in 2009.

About three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to a light 1.1 billion shares compared with 2.3 billion traded Friday.

Volume was heavy Friday because of the annual reconstitution of the Russell 3000 index. That forced investors to buy and sell hundreds of stocks.

Bond prices rose, pushing yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.48 percent from 3.53 percent late Friday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies. Gold prices fell.

The gains in commodities lifted energy, industrial and materials stocks. Exxon Mobil Corp. rose $1.53, or 2.2 percent, to $70.58; defense contractor General Dynamics Corp. rose $1.54, or 2.8 percent, to $57; and Eastman Chemical Co. rose $1.38, or 3.7 percent, to $38.79.

In other trading, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 2.61, or 0.5 percent, to 510.61.

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