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NEW YORK (AP) Stocks turned higher Wednesday, reversing earlier losses, as rising oil prices offset worries about the global economic recovery.
Europe’s debt crisis and weak Japanese exports raised concerns that the world’s major economies were flagging. Oil rose nearly $2 to settle at $101.32 per barrel, helping to push energy stocks higher.
Energy companies in the S 500 rose 1.6 percent. Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. led the S 500 higher, rising 7 percent. Higher prices for other commodities including copper and silver helped lift material company stocks. Freeport McMoRan Copper Gold Inc. gained 3 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 37 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,393, in late afternoon trading. The Standard Poor’s 500 index rose 4, or 0.3 percent, to 1,320. The Nasdaq composite rose 16, or 0.6 percent, to 2,762.
Greece’s government and opposition party failed late Tuesday to reach agreement on how to pare the country’s debts, adding to the uncertainty around Greece’s financial future. Many analysts believe Greece will eventually have to restructure its debt,
possibly by extending interest payments or lowering interest rates.
Without that restructuring, if Greece defaults on its debt it could have a domino effect, raising borrowing rates for larger European countries and hampering the world economy.
Japan’s government reported that the country’s exports fell by 12.5 percent in April after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami shuttered factories and forced manufacturers to stop production. Japan’s auto shipments were particularly hurt, dropping 67 percent. The report added to concerns that the global economy is a long way from returning to health. Companies ordered fewer computers, heavy machines, cars and airplanes from factories in April. business investment.
Stocks had been on a steady climb since last August before dropping steeply in March when the Japanese catastrophe shook global financial markets. Strong corporate earnings sent stocks back up in April, but markets have stalled in the past three weeks. The S 500 closed at 1,363 on April 29, its highest level of the year, and has drifted lower ever since. Treasurys have risen as traders avoid a stock market they see as volatile. The S 500 index has closed higher on only three of the last 10 days.
Some analysts say the market may have been rising too far, too fast since the beginning of the year, making stocks seem expensive. The Dow is still up 7 percent for the year. The S 500 is up 5 percent.
“A pullback in the market is probably healthy,” said Michael Sansoterra, portfolio manager at Silvant Capital Management.
Fertilizer company CF Industries rose 4 percent a day after a JPMorgan upgraded the stock, citing the company’s good cash flow and positive predictions for the agriculture industry.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia jumped 19 percent. The company announced that it had hired the Blackstone Group as an advisor, triggering speculation the whole company will be put up for sale.
Retail stocks are struggling. Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. sank 8 percent after reporting that higher costs pushed profit down 36 percent. Discount retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. slipped 1 percent after reporting earnings that missed analysts’ estimates.