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Stocks Turn Higher as Markets Remain Volatile; Oil Drops

Stocks Turn Higher as Markets Remain Volatile; Oil Drops

U.S. stocks remain volatile as major indexes swung from sharp losses in morning trading to modest gains in the afternoon and more in Monday’s Stock Market Update. Energy and financial companies are falling and technology companies are rising.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost as much as 507 points in early trading before recouping its losses and turning slightly higher in the afternoon. Stocks in Europe and Asia fell.

The British pound is dropping to its lowest level in more 18 months after the U.K. prime minister postponed a vote on the country’s departure from the European Union, and oil has resumed its sharp slide.

STOCK MARKET UPDATE

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,637 at closing time. The Dow added 34 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,423. Technology companies, which have fallen sharply since October, did better. The Nasdaq composite rose 51 points, or .7 percent, to 7,020.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks sagged 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,445.

U.S. indexes have been lurching up and down since October, mostly down, and the S&P 500 plunged 4.6 percent last week for its biggest loss in more than eight months, as investors felt the U.S. and China are still nowhere close to ending their trade dispute.

Volatility has been high not only week to week but also minute to minute. The S&P 500 zoomed from a gain of 0.2 percent to a loss of 1.8 percent Monday morning, then reversed course and spent the afternoon switching between small gains and losses.

ENERGY: Crude oil gave up last week’s gains. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 3.1 percent to $51 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 2.8 percent to $59.97 a barrel in London.

It’s a resumption of the steep decline for crude’s price that began in October. Prices steadied last week after OPEC and other major oil producers said they will reduce production by 1.2 million barrels a day starting from January. The cuts will last for six months.

Energy stocks took dipped. Exxon Mobil lost 1.6 percent to $76.40 and Schlumberger shed 2.8 percent to $41.89.

BONDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped early on, but recovered. It remained at 2.85 percent, about the same as late Friday. The 10-year yield spiked to a seven-year high in early November but in the last few days it’s been trading around lowest since late August.

Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist for Invesco, said stocks have bounced back from their early losses because Wall Street thinks the Fed might react to the trade turmoil by raising interest rates at a slower pace.

“There are certainly some bargain hunters at work today, but more than that is the growing recognition that we could see the Fed take its foot off the accelerator,” she said. “That could be a source of momentum, a positive force for markets.”

Lower interest rates mean smaller profits for banks, however. Bank of American sank 2.3 percent to $24.86 and JPMorgan Chase fell 1.6 percent to $101.62.

BREXIT PAUSE: British Prime Minister Theresa May postponed a vote on her deal for Britain to exit the European Union, which had been scheduled for Tuesday. She acknowledged that she would have lost the vote by a significant margin.

The pound sank to $1.2557, down from $1.2751 late Friday. The FTSE 100 stock index fell 0.8 percent. That was better than many other European indexes, as the falling pound helped British exporters.

OVERSEAS STOCK MARKET UPDATE: In Europe, investors bought bonds and sold stocks. Germany’s DAX lost 1.5 percent, and the CAC 40 in France declined 1.4 percent.

Asian stocks were hurt by weak economic data from Japan and China. Revised data showed the Japanese economy shrank by 2.5 percent in the third quarter, a larger decline than analysts expected. Chinese imports and exports climbed at a much slower pace in November than they had in October.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slid 2.1 percent, South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.1 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 1.2 percent.

HUAWEI ARREST: Tensions between the U.S. and China kept climbing following the detention of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. She is suspected of trying to evade U.S. trade curbs on Iran, and she was detained while changing planes in Canada.

China summoned both the U.S. and Canadian ambassadors to meetings over the weekend and protested her arrest. Meng’s arrest has jolted the stock market.

“It’s a source of great anger for China that this could happen,” said Hooper. “China is looking for retaliation and the most appropriate place for retaliation would be in trade negotiations with the U.S.”

BULKING UP: Nutrisystem surged 28.6 percent to $43.98 after wellness program operator Tivity Health agreed to buy it for $47 a share in cash and stock, or $1.38 billion. Tivity stock dropped 30 percent to $35.89.

OTHER COMMODITIES: Wholesale gasoline fell 4.5 percent to $1.42 a gallon. Heating oil skidded 2.2 percent to $1.84 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.3 percent to $4.55 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold slipped 0.3 percent to $1,249.40 an ounce. Silver lost 0.6 percent to $14.61 an ounce. Copper slid 1.4 percent to $2.72 a pound.

OTHER CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.21 Japanese yen from 112.64 yen late Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1353 from $1.1422.

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