U.S. stocks erased losses, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closing higher for a second day, as crude rebounded from an eight-month low amid an escalation of geopolitical tensions. Commodities sank to a four-year low.
The S&P 500 climbed 0.1 percent at 4 p.m. in New York, reversing an earlier decline of 0.5 percent. Energy producers rose after U.S. oil jumped 1.3 percent. Treasury 10-year notes were little changed after reversing gains. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index sank a sixth straight day, as the ruble weakened to a record low. The Bloomberg Commodity Index sank to a four- year low as corn and soybean futures tumbled.
President Barack Obama pledged more air strikes on Islamic State extremists and said the U.S. is joining the European Union in slapping more sanctions on Russia for its continued support of separatists in Ukraine. Initial claims for jobless insurance in the U.S. unexpectedly rose last week. The International Energy Agency cut its global oil demand forecasts a day after OPEC lowered its supply outlook.
“We’re just stuck in a tight range because the market has been so strong this year and every now and then the market needs a little time to cool off,” Dan Miller, director of equities at GW&K Investment Management in Boston, said. The firm oversees more than $20 billion. “Geopolitical events of course always make the market nervous.”
The S&P 500 halted a two-day slide yesterday as a rally in Apple Inc. boosted technology shares. The gauge fell 0.7 percent on Sept. 9, its first move in either direction of more than 0.5 percent in 15 days, the longest streak since 1995. The equities benchmark closed at a record on Sept. 5 and has advanced 7.9 percent this year.
The unexpected gain in jobless claims today interrupted a steady decrease to the lowest level since before the last recession and may boost Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s assertion that slack remains in the labor market. Policy officials next meet Sept. 16-17.
Energy shares in the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent, erasing an earlier loss of 1.2 percent. Celgene Corp. slipped 2.3 percent to pace declines in health-care stocks. MasterCard Inc. dropped 1.3 percent after losing a court challenge to a EU antitrust curb on card-payment fees. Lululemon Athletica Inc. soared 14 percent after profit exceeded estimates.
Obama yesterday pledged a “relentless” campaign to destroy Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, with Middle Eastern allies such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan playing crucial supporting roles. The conflict in Iraq, the second-biggest OPEC producer, has spared oil facilities in the south, home to about three-quarters of its crude output.
Brent crude fell as low as $96.72, the weakest since July 2, 2012, before erasing the loss. West Texas Intermediate crude settled 1.3 percent higher after bouncing off an eight-month low.
Crude had “a very large correction, which invites a lot of technical buying,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodities strategy at BNP Paribas SA. “The market is putting its weight behind WTI. People are now seeing that this is a relatively inexpensive level to enter a long position for oil.”
Treasury 10-year yields rose one basis point to 2.55 percent. Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co., said the notes are “fairly valued” at the current level near 2.5 percent.
German bonds of similar maturity were little changed, with yields at 1.05 percent. Spanish securities fell for a fourth day, sending the yield six basis points higher to 2.33 percent.
Treasury auctions this week attracted the strongest demand since February from a class of investors that includes foreign central banks as the plunge in European yields spurred demand for higher-returning U.S. debt.
International investors have been flocking to Treasuries since speculation the ECB was moving closer to buying bonds drove yields in the region to historic lows this month and turmoil in Ukraine enhanced the refuge appeal.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index slid 0.6 percent to cap the longest losing streak since November. The ruble weakened amid renewed sanctions on Russia while the country’s Micex Index lost 1.3 percent.
The U.S. sanctions will “deepen and broaden” sanctions in Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors, according to a statement from the White House today, which added that the sanctions will take effect tomorrow and details will be released then.
The EU agreed to implement plans to bar some Russian state- owned defense and energy companies from raising capital in the bloc, three EU officials said under condition of anonymity in Brussels. EU governments voted for the sanctions on Sept. 5, delaying their implementation as the cease-fire between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists began to take hold.
The pound rose against the dollar as concern that Scotland will vote for independence next week ebbed amid optimism the U.K. economy is strengthening.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.1 percent and is down 1 percent this week.
The Bloomberg Commodity Index of 22 raw materials dropped 0.8 percent to the lowest since June 2010. Corn and soybeans fell to four-year lows.
The greenback slipped after a 1.8 percent rally in the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index this month on bets the Fed will boost interest rates by mid-2015.
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