Dow rallies on higher oil as European stocks fall

 04 Feb 2016 - 8:35

Dow rallies on higher oil as European stocks fall

New York: Global stocks stumbled for most of the day Wednesday, but an afternoon rally in oil prices helped to lift key US indices.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 finished higher following a topsy-turvy session that also featured a big drop in the dollar versus other leading currencies.

"The turnaround was the big story today," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management. "There are lots of cross-currents in the market."

Hong Kong stocks dropped 2.3 percent, while Japan's Nikkei 225 plunged 3.2 percent as a stronger yen hit exporters and falling oil prices in early trade reignited worries about the world economy.

Europe continued the downward drift, with London, Frankfurt and Paris all shedding around 1.5 percent and Milan losing 2.8 percent.

"Another down day in Europe, taking its cues from Asia as the demise of oil prices continues to suppress any real risk appetite," said Brenda Kelly, head analyst at traders London Capital Group.

US stocks too were in retreat much of the session, with the Dow plunging nearly 200 points at one juncture soon after a report from the Institute for Supply Management showed much slower-than-expected growth in the US services sector.

But sentiment changed with an afternoon rally in oil prices on renewed speculation of a potential OPEC meeting to discuss cuts in oil production.

The shift lifted ExxonMobil 5.2 percent, along with other industrials such as Caterpillar and Alcoa, which rose 4.3 percent and 8.8 percent.

The Dow finished up 1.1 percent, while the S&P 500 climbed 0.5 percent.

"There's been a reversal in oil so the industrials are outperforming," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.

"It's been a clear rotation out of some of the tech winners into industrials." 

Alphabet/Google falls

But shares of some of the biggest US tech companies dropped, including Amazon, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet, which lost 4.9 percent.

As a result, Alphabet ceded its title of most valuable company after just one day back to Apple, which rose 2.0 percent.

US shares of Swiss pesticide and seed giant Syngenta rose 2.1 percent on news that China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) offered to buy it for $43 billion in what would be a record overseas purchase by a Chinese firm.

General Motors fell 2.5 percent despite reporting fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.39, a solid 18 cents above analyst expectations. Barclays cited worries the booming US auto market has peaked.

Yahoo dropped 4.7 percent as it reported an annual loss of $4.4 billion, announced it was cutting 15 percent of its workforce and suggested it could seek a deal to sell or merge the company.