U.S. Stocks Recover From Early Slump; Price of Oil Spikes 


Stocks overcame an early stumble Tuesday and finished modestly higher as investors shook off concerns about heightened tensions in the Middle East and a drop in consumer confidence.

The price of oil spiked after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane that Turkey said had violated its airspace and ignored warnings. Energy stocks including Exxon Mobil and Chevron moved higher along with the price of oil. Travel-related stocks including airlines, cruise operators and booking sites like Expedia slumped.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 19.51 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,812.19. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 2.55 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,089.14. The Nasdaq composite index inched up 0.33 points to 5,102.81.

The downing of the Russian plane added a new layer of complexity to the crisis in Syria. Russia denied that its jets had violated Turkish airspace, said it had been betrayed by Turkey, and warned of severe consequences. NATO worked to reduce tensions at an extraordinary meeting.

Domestically, a business research group said consumer confidence in the U.S. sank this month as Americans worried about the state of the job market. The Conference Board said consumer confidence fell to its lowest level in a year. That was a surprise after a month of strong job gains in October.

Jeremy Zirin, chief equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management Research, said the confidence report was a surprise because there are a lot of reasons for consumers to feel good right now. Employers are hiring and Americans have more money to spend because inflation and gas prices are low. There’s also evidence wages are increasing.

“It’s hard to explain,” he said. Zirin said he thinks consumer confidence will improve in December.

Crude oil rose $1.12, or 2.7 percent, to $42.87 a barrel in New York. That followed a 3.4-percent jump on Monday. Before that, the price of U.S. crude had fallen to its lowest level since August. Brent crude rose $1.29, or 2.9 percent, to $46.12 a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline climbed 7.7 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $1.39 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2.5 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $1.40 a gallon. Natural gas missed lost 1 cent to $2.20 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Energy stocks rose 2.1 percent, by far the largest gain in the S&P 500 index. Exxon Mobil rose $1.60, or 2 percent, to $81.88 and Chevron gained $1.34, or 1.5 percent, to $81.35.

The rising price of oil was one of several pieces of bad news for travel stocks like booking sites and airlines. Higher oil prices mean increased fuel costs, and they would also leave consumers with less money for travel. The sector was also battered by a global travel warning from the State Department and the drop in consumer confidence, which suggests that Americans might become nervous about spending money on vacations.

Priceline sank $24.14, or 1.9 percent, to $1,240.18 and Expedia shed $3.65, or 3.7 percent, to $121.27. Among airlines, United lost $1.76, or 3 percent, to $56.80 and Southwest dropped $1.24, or 2.6 percent, to $46.23. Royal Caribbean lost $2.91, or 3.1 percent, to $92.02 and Carnival gave up $1, or 2 percent, to $50.39.

Quarterly earnings reports continued to roll in. Jewelry company Signet, the owner of brands including Kay Jewelers, Jared and Zale, reported lower than expected profit and revenue. Its stock dropped $5.76, or 4.1 percent, to $134.89.

Campbell Soup and Hormel both rose after releasing their results. Campbell Soup shares picked up $1.54, or 3.1 percent, to $51.33 and Hormel added $2.06, or 3 percent, to $71.32.

Metals prices, at six-year lows, made some gains. Gold rebounded $7, or 0.7 percent, to $1,073.80 an ounce. The price of silver rose for only the third time in November, adding 12.7 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $14.159 an ounce. Copper picked up 3.4 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $2.055 a pound.

The euro rose to $1.0655 from $1.0625. The dollar fell to 122.44 yen from 122.85 yen. Bond prices didn’t move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.25 percent from 2.24 percent.