July 14th, 2010
10:52 PM ET

Oil hits 2-month high as stocks finish with little change

Stocks finish little changed
 
Stocks ended little changed Wednesday as meeting minutes from the Federal Reserve raised concerns about the economy after Intel's earnings strength renewed optimism about corporate results.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained about 4 points to close at 10,366. The S&P 500 index lost less than one point, while the Nasdaq composite rose nearly 8 points, or 0.3 percent.

Stocks staged a modest rally early in the session on optimism about second-quarter corporate profits. But the advance faded after the central bank released minutes from its June policy meeting showing that Fed officials have a more pessimistic view of the economy, stoking fears about a slowdown in the second half of the year.

Oil prices hit highest level in 2 months, near $80 
 
Oil prices continue to swing in the mid- to upper-$70s this week as investors digest the first wave of quarterly corporate results, and mixed economic and supply data.

A strong outlook for global crude demand pushed prices up three percent Tuesday, and oil continued to climb slightly higher Wednesday following a better-than-expected weekly government inventory report.

Prices have been trading between $70 and $80 a barrel since May. Last week, they posted their biggest weekly gain since May, jumping 5.5 percent to hit $76.09.

But on Monday prices retreated ahead of the start of earnings season and the release of a slew of economic reports. However, prices spiked again on Tuesday and Wednesday, pushing them back to two-month highs.

Treasurys gain on weak retail sales

Treasury prices rose Wednesday after a disappointing U.S. retail sales report, and a moderately strong auction of $13 billion in long bonds.

The benchmark 10-year note was up 22/32 to 103-17/32 and its yield fell to 3.05 percent. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The 2-year note edged up 4/32 to 100-1/32 with a yield of 0.61 percent, while the 30-year bond added 1-13/32 to 106 and yielded 4.01 percent.

The Commerce department released a report earlier Wednesday that said retail sales fell for the second straight month in June. Total retail sales fell 0.5% to $360.2 billion last month.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected that sales would slip by only 0.2 percent. The downbeat data pushed investors toward the safe haven of bonds, pulling prices higher - even though bond prices often fall ahead of auctions.

CNNMoney.com reporters Julianne Pepitone, Ben Rooney and Hibah Yousuf contributed to this report.

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