NEW YORK - US stocks rebounded from two days of losses to end higher today, as a week-long fall in oil prices and reassuring comments from a Fed official about inflation outweighed further signs of housing-market weakness.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has struggled with lackluster sales growth during the summer-long spike in petrol prices, gained 2.6 per cent to a two-month high as oil prices fell for a fifth straight day. Wal-Mart's moderate-income customer base had been particularly susceptible to the high cost of gas.
Lennar Corp., the No. 3 US home builder, became the latest in that industry to warn of weakness in the US housing market after it lowered its quarterly earnings estimate. Its shares fell 1.3 per cent to US$42.71 on the New York Stock Exchange.
"Everyone has been so worried about housing prices this week and whether that will put us into a recession, but now with oil and commodity prices coming in, for companies that are so dependent on energy, this will help their earnings," said Anthony Conroy, head trader at BNY Brokerage, a unit of Bank of New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended 60.67 points higher, or up 0.54 per cent, to 11,392.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 4.90 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 1,298.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 10.50 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 2,165.79.
For the week, the Nasdaq ended down 1.3 per cent, the Dow finished 0.6 per cent lower and the S&P lost 0.9 per cent. For both the Nasdaq and S&P it was the worst close in four weeks.
Cleveland Federal Reserve President Sandra Pianalto said the full impact of the Fed's two years of interest rate increases, aimed at controlling inflation, have not been fully felt in the economy.
US crude ended down US$1.07 at US$66.25 a barrel, after falling earlier to a five-month low, dropping on ample inventories and news that BP might be able to restore its Alaskan oil field sooner than expected.
Shares of Wal-Mart rose 2.6 per cent to US$46.72, making them the top-weighted gainer on the S&P 500. Meanwhile, energy-related shares dominated the bottom end of the index, with companies such as National Oilwell Varco and XTO Energy Inc. down more than 4 per cent.
US credit reporting bureau Equifax Inc. said it raised its 2006 earnings forecast, sending its shares surging more than 12 per cent to US$36.34 on the NYSE.
Amazon.com rose a day after it unveiled a widely anticipated internet service offering movies and TV shows that can be downloaded to personal computers. Its shares advanced 2.6 per cent to US$30.51.
Shares of Broadcom Corp. fell 1.3 per cent to US$26.09 on Nasdaq after the microchip maker said it had found more irregularities in the dates of past stock option grants.
Trading was light on the NYSE, with about 1.31 billion shares changing hands, below last year's daily average of 1.61 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 1.49 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 1.80 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by a ratio of 8 to 5 on the NYSE and by 6 to 5 on Nasdaq.