Stocks trade mixed ahead of Fed’s release of minutes from last meeting; Dow hovers near 11,000

By Tim Paradis, AP
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stocks trade mixed as traders look to Fed minutes

NEW YORK — The stock market traded in a tight range Tuesday after a rise in commodities lifted oil and materials companies.

Oil prices are holding near 18-month highs above $86 a barrel. On Monday, the Dow approached the 11,000 level for the first time since September 2008.

The modest moves also came ahead of the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting due out Tuesday afternoon. The Fed kept its key rate at a historic low during the March meeting to help generate growth. Investors are looking for signs of when the Fed might raise rates to combat inflation.

Stocks have been rising in recent months as new reports show the economy is slowly improving. There have been few pauses during the recent gains that have seen the Dow rise in each of the past five weeks, its longest winning streak since mid-April last year.

“You’ve got kind of firm legs under the economic rebound which makes firmer legs under the stock market’s rebound,” said Jason D. Pride, direct or investment strategy at Glenmede in Philadelphia.

In midday trading, the Dow fell 16.48, or 0.2 percent, to 10,957.07. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.23, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,187.21. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.42, or 0.1 percent, to 2,430.95.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.96 percent from 3.99 percent late Monday.

The 10-year yield climbed above 4 percent during trading Monday for the first time since June. It is approaching levels not seen since October 2008.

The Treasury Department is scheduled to auction three-year notes Tuesday afternoon. Weak demand at recent auctions, along with signs of economic recovery, have helped drive prices down and yields higher.

The dollar rose against other major currencies. Gold rose.

Crude oil rose 29 cents to $86.91 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Shares of Massey Energy Co. fell after an underground explosion blamed on methane gas killed 25 coal miners about 30 miles south of Charleston, W.Va. It was the worst U.S. mining disaster in more than two decades.

Four others were missing Tuesday following the explosion about 1.5 miles from the entrance to Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine.

The stock fell $5.36, or 9.8 percent, to $49.33.

In other trading Tuesday, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 1.87, or 0.3 percent, to 699.52.

Advancing stocks narrowly outpaced those that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 369.3 million shares compared with 335.3 traded at the same point Monday.

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 0.3 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.5 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.5 percent.

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