Richard Drew, Associated Press
NEW YORK — The Dow Jones industrial average closed its best start to the year since 1999 Thursday, rising 6.4 percent in the first three months. The index of 30 large companies gained 742 points in that stretch. Measured against other first quarters, that's the largest point gain since 1998 and the second best on record.
Stocks ended the day mixed as the price of oil jumped to a 30-month high. Slightly disappointing reports on unemployment claims and factory orders also weighed on the market.
The first-quarter gains were anything but an easy ride. Uprisings in the Arab world, a jump in oil prices along with the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan led to many deep one-day falls.
"This is a market that has been defined by resilience in the face of uncertainty," said Andrew Goldberg, a market strategist at JP Morgan Funds.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 30.88 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,319.73. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 2.43, or 0.2 percent, to 1,325.83. The Nasdaq composite rose 4.28, or 0.2 percent, to 2,781.07.
The S&P 500 rose 5.4 percent during the first quarter, the Nasdaq 4.8 percent.
Stocks swung between small gains and losses Thursday as the price of oil surged to settle at $106.72 a barrel. Troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi retook control of the key oil port of Ras Lanouf from rebel forces. The power shift threatens the quick restart of oil exports promised by a rebel victory.
Oil prices have jumped $20 since the Libyan uprising began in February. Higher oil prices can pinch spending by forcing consumers to pay more for gasoline and could cut into economic growth.
There were also slightly disappointing reports on new unemployment claims and factory orders. The Labor Department said fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, signaling that companies may be slowing layoffs. The number of new claims fell by 6,000 to 388,000. Analysts had expected a larger drop.
The news comes a day before the Labor Department's monthly employment report. The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 8.9 percent.
Banks in Ireland were also under pressure. The country's central bank said Thursday that four of its cash-strapped banks need another €24 billion in coming months to show that they won't collapse in the face of future crises. Ireland has already put €46 billion into the country's banks since 2009. The four banks will need to draw on an emergency credit line from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
- Lawsuit accuses state of illegally pursuing...
- Chinatown Supermarket opens in South Salt Lake
- 9 startup companies perfect for your family
- U.S. economy grows at scorching 4 percent in...
- The wrath of Comic-Con: S.L. convention...
- Dave Ramsey says: Don't touch that 529 plan
- Consumer index climbs to record level in Utah
- BYU grad strikes gold teaching via online...
- Fast food workers vow civil disobedience 18
- Dave Ramsey says: Don't leave an estate... 13
- San Diego Comic-Con tells Salt Lake... 12
- BYU grad strikes gold teaching via... 12
- U.S. economy grows at scorching 4... 11
- Sarah Palin launches online... 10
- Dave Ramsey says: Don't touch that 529... 8
- The wrath of Comic-Con: S.L. convention... 8