Dow sets record high after day of swings


By Nicholas Heinzmann

U.S. stocks mostly resumed their upward climb after a volatile day on Wall Street Thursday, edging higher on news of deals and strong corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 40.59 points, or 0.23 percent, closing at a new high of 17,652.79. Thursday’s record close for the Dow was its sixth out of the past seven sessions.

The S&P 500 index inched up 1 point to close at 2,309.33. The NASDAQ Composite Index gained 5 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 4,680.14. The yield on the benchmark ten-year Treasury note fell to 2.34 percent from 2.37 percent at Wednesday’s close.

Stocks initially climbed Thursday on acquisition and earnings news, as well as signs of continued improvement in the jobs market from the U.S. Labor Department reports on jobless claims and labor market turnover.

But a plunge in oil prices to a four-year low of $74.27 pressured energy company shares and reversed earlier stock gains in early afternoon trading. Higher U.S. output, climbing inventories and Saudi Arabia’s refusal to reduce output have fueled the collapse.

“The drop in oil prices is mostly due to oversupply and weak demand and contributed to the weakness in stocks later in the day,” said William Lynch, Director of Investments at Hinsdale Associates. “This trend should continue as a vote on the Keystone Pipeline may take place as early as next week,” which, if passed, would further raise oil stockpiles and push prices downward.

Just before the market’s close at 3 p.m. Central time, however, news of a possible energy merger sent the market back into positive territory.

Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes Inc. lead gains in the Dow, soaring 15.2 percent on news that Halliburton Co. is in talks to buy the company, according to the Wall Street Journal. Baker Hughes and Halliburton are the third and second largest companies in the field behind Schlumberger Ltd.

Shares of DreamWorks Animation surged 11 percent, rising to $24.83 from $22.37, after reports that toy manufacturer Hasbro is in talks to buy the company. Shares of the would-be parent company, however, dropped $2.39, or 4.2 percent, as investors questioned whether the math in the deal would really add up.

Wal-Mart soared 4.7 percent after reporting stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings. The Arkansas-based retailer benefited from low prices at the gas pump, which put more cash in its customers’ pockets and lead the company to its first sales increase since 2012.