U.S. stocks end up as oil skids 9 percent
One final hurrah, or gasp given the grim global economic conditions, pushed U.S. stocks to a positive close before the Christmas break on Wednesday, but other markets fell, with crude oil slumping 9 percent on the economic outlook, Reuters reported.
Stocks in Europe and Asia fell in thin trading volumes, led down by energy, pharmaceutical and automotive shares. European and U.S. stock markets closed early.
U.S. economic data showed more weakness in consumer spending, declining incomes, and a drop in durable goods orders in November, while new claims for unemployment benefits rose to a 26-year high last week.
The weak data drove down the price of crude oil, offsetting a report that showed an unexpected decline in U.S. crude stockpiles.
While grim, some of the U.S. data was not as bad as was expected.
"We're certainly in a period where you are going to see weak economic data and we will see that for awhile," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York. "But it is a financial system that can recover with stocks that have some value."
The lower oil prices and bargain hunting boosted airline stocks and retailers.
U.S. stock markets closed at 1 p.m. (6 p.m. GMT). The Dow Jones industrial average gained 48.91 points, or 0.58 percent, to 8,468.40. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 4.91 points, or 0.57 percent, to 868.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged higher, up 3.36 points, or 0.22 percent, to 1,524.90.
The airline index rose 2 percent and the S&P index of retailers gained about 1 percent.
U.S. automaker General Motors enjoyed a brief respite from the selling, rising 8.3 percent to $3.25 . Year-to-date, GM's stock is down 87 percent. U.S. automakers have been crippled by the credit crisis that has forced them to take $17.4 billion (£11.7 billion) in emergency government funds.