Stocks drop as oil prices edge up

2011-03-09 18:03

New York - Stocks fell Wednesday as crude oil prices edged higher. Crude oil prices were slightly above $105 a barrel in early trading.

The conflict in Libya has raised concerns about a drop in oil production, causing a surge in crude prices and weighing on markets.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 15 points, or 0.1%, at 12 200. The S&P 500 index fell 3, or 0.2%, at 1 318. The Nasdaq composite fell 14, or 0.5%, at 2 750.

Gold, silver and other assets considered safe inched up. Treasury bonds rose, slightly lowering their yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 3.52% from 3.54% the day before.

Wednesday marks the two-year anniversary of the most recent stock market rally. Stocks hit 12-year lows on March 9, 2009, dragged down by the financial crisis. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has nearly doubled since then.

Texas Instruments Inc. dropped 3%. After the market closed Tuesday, the company narrowed its sales and profit estimates for the current quarter. Demand for chips for televisions and personal computers remained weak.

Bon-Ton Stores Inc. jumped 7%. The department store chain said its profit climbed 6% as sales open at least a year improved.

H&R Block Inc., the largest US tax preparation company, will report quarterly results after the market closes. The company has already said it expects to post a decline in profit and revenue because of slow start to the tax filing season.

Banks led the market higher Tuesday after Bank of America’s chief executive, Brian Moynihan, told an investor’s meeting that the bank may earn more money over the next two years as its business stabilizes.

Moynihan said he was intent on rewarding the bank’s shareholders, raising expectations that banks would raise their dividends.