Wall Street flat, but commodity shares gain

By @ibtimes on

Investors chased materials and energy stocks on Friday in an otherwise lackluster start to Wall Street's last trading session before earnings season.

Stocks have traded in a tight range at elevated levels this week, with trading volume low as investors focus on upcoming earnings as the next catalyst set to drive equity prices.

A fall in the dollar, pressured by expectations of more rate hikes in the euro zone, as well as hopes for strong demand, helped lift oil and metal prices.

Chevron Corp , up 0.6 percent to $109.65, was the biggest boost to the Dow industrials. Among miners Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold rose 0.9 percent to $58.

All the action is in commodities, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati. It seems like a lot of money is chasing that area currently.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 4.12 points, or 0.03 percent, to 12,405.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 0.57 point, or 0.04 percent, to 1,334.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dropped 2.34 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,793.80.

The earnings season will begin unofficially with Alcoa Inc , the first Dow component to release results after the market's close on Monday. JPMorgan Chase & Co and Google Inc are due to report later in the week.

Recent volume has been among the lowest of the year as investors wait to see how corporations are faring in an environment with overseas headwinds but also signs of recovery.

Most people are very bullish and focused on earnings season, which should see solid growth, especially in financials, technology and commodities, said Paul Brigandi, vice president of trading at Direxion Funds in New York.

Brigandi added that the S&P was nearing resistance around 1,345, near its 2011 high, and that could make larger near-term gains more difficult.

Brent crude climbed to a 32-month high and was at $124.99 a barrel helped by concern of a shortage of Libyan oil. Occidental Petroleum Corp rose 1.8 percent to $102.91 and the S&P Energy index <.GSPE> rose 0.6 percent.

Copper rose 1.9 percent while gold hit record highs on Friday and silver reached its strongest level since early 1980.

U.S.-listed shares of miner Rio Tinto Plc rose 2.7 percent.

Detrick said the breakout in silver prices could bode well as a strong indicator of industrial demand. It's a big industrial metal and that's a potentially good sign for the global economy, he said.

The euro rose to a 15-month high against the dollar, supported by expectations of more euro zone interest rate hikes, while the prospect of a U.S. government shutdown pushed the dollar broadly lower.

The White House and Congress faced a midnight deadline to break a budget deadlock. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Friday there was still no agreement. When will the White House and when will Senate Democrats get serious about cutting spending, the Republican said.

Shares of Seagate Technology Plc climbed 9.3 percent to $16.05 a day after it reinstated its dividend and said it expects its third-quarter revenue and margins to come in at the higher end of its previous guidance.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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