UPDATE: 11 a.m. EDT
U.S. stocks struggled to hold early gains Wednesday after data revealed oil inventories rose more than expected last week, marking the ninth consecutive week of a higher total than at any time in at least 80 years. Weak investor sentiment following the report sent the price of U.S. crude futures down more than 1 percent to below $48 a barrel.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose by 4.5 million barrels from the previous week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. At 448.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are at the highest level for this time of year in at least the last 80 years.
At 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 31.40 points, or 0.18 percent, to 17,694.34. The S&P 500 stock index added 0.70 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,044.92. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.11 points, or 0 percent, to 4,859.88.
UPDATE: 9:54 a.m. EDT
U.S. stocks slightly rebounded Wednesday after European stocks rallied as a weak euro helped boost exporters. Concerns of a springtime interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve spooked investors this week, causing volatility across the global financial markets. The sell-off in U.S. equities a day earlier pushed the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging more than 300 points, erasing all gains for the year.
Following the opening bell, the Dow, which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, added 36.25 points, or 0.21 percent, to 17,699.19. The S&P 500 stock index rose 2.04 points, or 0.10 percent, to 2,046.20. The Nasdaq composite gained 6.81 points, or 0.13 percent, to 4,865.91.
The euro declined further against the U.S. dollar Wednesday, falling as much as $1.0563 to its lowest level since April 2003. The euro has been under significant pressure recently as economists expect the Fed will raise interest rates in 2015. The European Central Bank this week launched a $1.1 trillion bond-buying program to spur economic growth in the struggling eurozone.
Data Wednesday showed weekly U.S. mortgage applications dropped last week after a jump in rates weighed on home lending. Total mortgage application volume fell 1.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending March 6, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. The decline was primarily driven by a 3 percent drop in applications to refinance, its lowest level since January 2015.
Economists are looking ahead to Wednesday’s weekly U.S. oil inventories report issued at 10:30 a.m. EDT. Data last week showed crude inventories surged to the highest level on record, raising concerns about oversupply. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose by 10.3 million barrels for the week ended Feb. 27 to a record 444.4 million, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said last week. U.S. crude oil inventories were the highest on record and remained at the highest level for this time of year in at least the last 80 years.
Ahead of the report, West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, edged up 0.56 percent, to $48.56 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, added 0.94 percent, to $56.92 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.