Wall Street steadies as oil plunges, China woes deepen

Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:03pm EST
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By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street rallied to finish slightly higher on Monday, steadying after a brutal start to 2016, while beaten-down oil prices plunged further after a fresh tumble for Chinese stocks.

In a volatile session in which U.S. stocks were lower much of the day, the S&P 500 and the Dow rallied to close higher after last week posting their worst-ever five-day starts to the year.

China's main stock indexes .SSEC .CSI300 each dropped more than 5 percent on Monday. Oil prices fell to new 12-year lows, as concerns over China hurt commodity prices broadly.

Noting that weak signs out of China and falling oil prices have recently pressured stocks, Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana, said: "You had both those things happen today and the market managed to finish upward.

"The fact that it did hold up for the same reasons that it seemed to go down last week, that’s a victory," Carlson said. "Today was kind of a nice, perhaps, first brick in the bottom being put in place."

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 52.12 points, or 0.32 percent, to 16,398.57, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 1.64 points, or 0.09 percent, to 1,923.67 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC lost 5.64 points, or 0.12 percent, to 4,637.99. Energy shares .SPNY led declines, while the healthcare sector .SPXHC fell 1.2 percent as Celgene Corp (CELG.O: Quote) weighed after posting a disappointing financial outlook.

Investors were looking to U.S. corporate earnings to help provide confidence, with major banks reporting later this week, despite expectations for a second consecutive quarter of overall declining earnings.

"We are going to start to get into earnings season and that is going to begin to be the bigger cue for this market," Carlson said.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid