US stocks edge up despite oil price jump

2011-02-24 17:51

New York - US stocks rose slightly Thursday after two days of losses, tempered by rocketing oil prices and mixed US economic data.

At 1530 GMT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 4.61 points (0.04%) to 12 111.60 while the broader S&P 500 index pulled up 2.55 points (0.20%) to 1 309.95.

The tech-driven Nasdaq added 21.80 points (0.80%) at 2 744.79.

Shares of auto giant General Motors fell 0.52% after the company turned in a buoyant annual profit report, its first after undergoing bankruptcy reorganization and returning to the stock market in November.

GM reported full-year net earnings of $4.7bn for 2010 after deep losses in the previous year. But the fourth quarter was slower than expected, with a net income of $500m after net charges of $400m related to repaying the federal government for its massive bailout.

Traders said there was still broad concern in the markets after crude oil jumped more than $5 a barrel to within a whisker of $120, in London trade on fears that Arab unrest, especially in Libya, could lead to major cuts in supplies.

On the economic front, new aircraft orders drove a 2.7% surge in US durable-goods orders in January, after three months of decline, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

But without the typically volatile transportation equipment orders, new orders were down 3.6%.

Meanwhile initial US jobless claims fell by 22 000 last week, official figures showed Thursday, pointing to an improving labor market.

"A larger-than-forecasted drop in weekly initial jobless claims is helping sentiment recover in morning trading... while a mixed durable-goods orders report, which showed disappointing results in January but solid upward revisions to the December data, has traders grappling with the economic outlook," said Charles Schwab analysts in a morning report.

Bonds got a new boost from the Libya turmoil. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond dropped to 3.438% from 3.487% late Wednesday, while the 30-year bond fell to 4.539% from 4.598% a day earlier.

Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.