Stocks, Starting September on A Quiet Note, Notch Tiny Gains

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks staged a late recovery Thursday and finished mostly higher, led by technology and metals companies. However energy companies continued to fall with the price of oil.

In early trading the Dow Jones industrial average lost up to 105 points. But those losses faded around noon and stocks finished more or less back where they started. Banks and utility companies slipped, and energy companies took losses as oil prices fell for the fourth day in a row.

It has now been almost two months since the stock market has made a big move. The market recorded a tiny loss in August after an extraordinarily quiet month.

Benchmark U.S. crude is down more than 9 percent this week, but it’s stayed between $40 and $50 a barrel for about five months.

The Dow rose 18.42 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,419.30. The S&P 500 index lost 0.09 points to 2,170.86. The Nasdaq composite gained 13.99 points, 0.3 percent, to 5,227.21.

U.S. crude oil gave up $1.54, or 3.4 percent, to $43.16 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, fell $1.44, or 3.1 percent, to $45.45 a barrel in London. Valero Energy lost $1.06, or 1.9 percent, to $54.29.

Technology companies made the biggest gains. Hewlett Packard Enterprise gained 68 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $22.16. Graphics chipmaker Nvidia said it will work with Chinese e-commerce company Baidu to develop an autonomous driving system. Nvidia picked up $1.81, 3 percent, to $63.15 and Baidu rose $5.55, or 3.2 percent, to $176.62.

Materials companies made some large gains. Gold producer Newmont Mining jumped $1.19, or 3.1 percent, to $39.43 and steel maker Nucor rose 79 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $49.30.

Cable company Charter Communications, which recently bought Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, rose after S&P Dow Jones said the company will be added to the Standard & Poor’s 500 index next week. Charter gained $11.61, or 4.5 percent, to $268.82.

U.S. manufacturing shrank in August for the first time since February as orders and output fell and factories cut jobs. However there were signs that the weak global economy won’t hurt U.S. manufacturers as much. Chinese factory managers said they expect to do more business and European manufacturers reported continued growth.

“There’s no real sign that we’re near the end of a cycle,” said Yura, of BMO Global Asset Management.

U.S. government bond prices didn’t move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.57 percent from 1.58 percent. The dollar fell to 103.32 yen from 103.44 yen and the euro rose to $1.1197 from $1.1162.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline dropped 6 cents to $1.27 a gallon. Heating oil fell 4 cents to $1.38 a gallon. Natural gas fell 10 cents to $2.79 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The price of gold rose $5.70 to $1,317.10 an ounce. Silver jumped 24 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $18.94 an ounce. Copper remained at $2.08 a pound.

Germany’s DAX fell 0.6 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent. The CAC 40 in France was little changed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.2 percent up. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.8 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi fell 0.1 percent.