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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Stocks end down as crude futures edge up

By Michael J. Martinez
Associated Press

NEW YORK — Stocks drifted lower in quiet trading yesterday as oil prices edged upward and concerns about the automotive sector intensified after Ford Motor Co. slashed its profit outlook for the year.

Investors initially welcomed reports that OPEC plans another production increase in May to meet steady demand. Crude futures climbed higher, however, breaking a five-session streak of lower prices. A barrel of light crude settled 39 cents higher at $53.71 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Falling oil prices helped the major indexes post weekly gains for the first time in a month, but crude futures remain high and analysts warned that investors will need to see strong first-quarter earnings over the next few weeks for stocks to recover further. Ford's announcement fed doubts about whether corporate America can keep profits up in the face of high energy costs.

"Right now, you see the economy growing and things are looking pretty good, despite all the worries," said Hans Olsen, managing director and chief investment officer at Bingham Legg Advisers. "But while the economy is climbing that wall of worry, stocks are running right into it. We'll need to see some pretty good earnings down the road to overcome that."

Bonds rallied, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.43 percent from 4.48 percent late Friday. The dollar lost ground against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Stocks fluctuated in and out of positive territory for much of the session, and volume was very light — signs of a market in a holding pattern as earnings reports start to come in.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 1.6 billion shares, compared with 1.69 billion Friday.