Shares rise in thin post-holiday trade; oil, natural gas slip

Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:43pm EST
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By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks pushed higher on Friday, with the Dow and S&P 500 both closing at record highs, while oil and natural gas fell on worries of a supply glut and on mild U.S. weather.

The three major U.S. stock indexes notched their second straight weekly advance. Eight of the S&P 500's 10 primary sectors ended higher, and no sector ended more than 0.1 percent lower. Trading was light, however.

Europe, Canada, Latin America and a number of Asian markets were closed for a holiday the day after Christmas.

"This modest growth, modest inflation environment that we've been in looks to me like it's going to continue, and that's positive for stocks," said Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis.

Oil prices slipped, pressured by a supply glut in top consumer the United States. A Department of Energy report on Wednesday showed crude inventories in the latest week rose to their highest December level on record.

U.S. natural gas futures hit a more than two-year bottom below $3 after the worst week since February as disappointing weekly draws of the fuel raised worries about growing gas in storage.

NYMEX's front-month gas hit a September 2012 low of $2.9783 per million British thermal units before settling at $3.007, about half a percent below the close on Wednesday. The contract had traded as high as $4.53 per mmBtu on Nov. 26 due to colder weather then across the United States before collapsing as temperatures turned higher.

Brent crude settled down 79 cents at $59.45 a barrel. U.S. crude settled down $1.11 at $54.73 a barrel. Spot gold prices were up $21.09 at $1,194.39 an ounce.   Continued...

A police officer is pictured though a wreath as he stands guard in the rain at the New York Stock Exchange on the last day of trading before Christmas in the Manhattan borough of New York, December 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri