Stocks Close Higher

A retreat in oil prices helps boost the market

Stocks reversed early losses to close higher Monday, as oil prices fell from last week's record highs to below $67 on profit-taking. Strength in electronics and semiconductor groups helped lift the market, according to Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 34.07 points, or 0.32%, to 10,634.38. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 3.48 points, or 0.28%, to 1,233.87. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 10.14 points, or 0.47%, to 2,167.04.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, the consumer price index for July will be released. Economists polled by Action Economics are expecting the index to rise 0.4%, after a flat reading in June.

Tuesday is also a heavy day on the earnings calendar. Applied Materials (AMAT ), Hewlett-Packard (HWP ), Home Depot (HD ), JC Penney (JCP ), Nordstrom (JWN ), Wal-Mart Stores (WMT ), are among the companies reporting results.

On Monday, the New York Fed's Empire State manufacturing survey came in at 23.04 in August, down from 23.91 in July, but better than the 19 reading that economists polled by Action Economics were expecting.

Energy futures, which hit record contract highs last week on rampant speculation that there will be shortages in the near future, headed lower Monday on profit-taking, according to Standard & Poor's MarketScope. September NYMEX crude oil settled down 51 cents at the $66.35 a barrel level.

In corporate news, Agilent Technologies (A ) said that it was selling its semiconductor unit to private-equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Silver Lake Partners for $2.66 billion as part of a restructuring plan that includes spinning off two other businesses. The company also said its third-quarter net income rose to $104 million from $100 million in the period last year.

Home-improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW ) posted a better-than-expected 20% increase in second-quarter profit, thanks to sales of installed items, special orders and sales to businesses. Quarterly income came in at $838 million, or $1.05 per share.

After the close Friday, Maytag (MYG ) said it was no longer recommending the pending $14-per-share cash merger deal with investment group Triton Acquisition Holding, but was shifting its support to a $21-per-share cash and stock bid from Whirlpool (WHR ). The $1.7 billion deal is subject to review from anti-trust authorities.

Treasury Market

Treasury prices were lower Monday partly because of a drop in foreign buying in June and partly because of profit-taking after last week's rally, according to Standard and Poor's Marketscope. The yield on the benchmark 10-year ended the day at 4.26%.

World Markets

European stock markets closed mixed Monday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index fell 1.60 points, or 0.03%, to 5,344.2 on bargain hunting. Homebuy Group was higher on strong annual earnings, while Marconi was higher after it said it held talks with European phone companies about a takeover. Germany's DAX index fell 14.99 points, or 0.30%, to 4,922.34. Commerzbank was lower on news that CEO Klaus-Peter Mueller is being investigated by Frankfurt prosecutors in connection with a money-laundering investigation. Insurance and asset management group Allianz was up after Lehman Brothers raised its share price estimate.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index lost 9.90 points, or 0.22%, to 4,466.58. Retailer Carrefour was higher even though the company denied a report that it was in takeover talks with Wal-Mart, and chemicals group Rhodia was lower after Credit Suisse First Boston reiterated its "underperform" rating on the stock.

Asian markets ended mixed Monday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed down 5.13 points, or 0.04%, to 12,256.55 as the market continued to consolidate recent gains and high oil prices raised concerns of an adverse impact on the global economy.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index closed up 15.11 points, or 0.10% to 15,466.06, boosted by gains in China Mobile and Bank Of China Hong Kong, according to Standard and Poor's MarketScope.

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