Stocks pare losses in late afternoon as Ukraine conflict spurs energy rally - The Buffalo News

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Stocks pare losses in late afternoon as Ukraine conflict spurs energy rally

Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks erased losses as increasing violence in Ukraine sent oil prices to the biggest increase in a month and spurred a rally in energy producers.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Cimarex Energy Co. and Kinder Morgan Inc. led a measure of oil and natural gas producers in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to a 0.5 percent advance, the most among 10 main industries. Nordstrom Inc. sank 5.2 percent after reporting sales that missed analysts’ estimates. Monster Beverage Corp. soared 30 percent after Coca-Cola Co. agreed to buy a stake in the company.

The S&P 500 pared declines in the late afternoon, ending the day little changed at 1,955.06 as 4 p.m. in New York. It earlier fell as much as 0.7 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 50.67 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,662.91. About 6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges today, 5.7 percent above the three-month average.

“Investors are trying to weed through what exactly is going on in Ukraine, and the market is drifting back,” Stephen Carl, principal and head equity trader at New York-based Williams Capital Group LP, said in a phone interview. “We have a geopolitical situation that needs to be addressed, and that’s overshadowing everything else in the market.”

Ukrainian government troops attacked an armed convoy that had crossed the border from Russian territory, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the country’s military, told reporters in Kiev.

Ukrainian soldiers continue to come under shelling, including rounds fired from Russia, he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Ukraine is attempting to disrupt an aid convoy, and called for a cease-fire to allow delivery of supplies. The government in Kiev has for months said that separatist rebels in its easternmost regions are receiving support from Russia, which backs them with artillery fire. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Ukrainian unrest.

The turmoil pushed energy prices higher, with West Texas Intermediate crude rising 1.9 percent to $97.35 a barrel.

Kinder Morgan Inc. rallied 3.9 percent, bringing gains for the week to 15 percent after Houston billionaire Richard Kinder made a move to consolidate his pipeline empire. Cimarex and Anadarko climbed more than 2 percent.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, which usually moves in the opposite direction to the S&P 500, jumped 5.9 percent to 13.15, halting five days of declines. The gauge lost 17 percent for the week.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2 percent this week as signs of a slowing economy stoked bets central banks will leave interest rates near record lows for longer, overshadowing escalating tensions in Ukraine.

Economic data today showed industrial production advanced 0.4 percent in July, while the New York Fed Empire Manufacturing gauge fell more than estimated and consumer confidence unexpectedly declined to its lowest level of the year.

Nineteen S&P 500 companies, including Home Depot Inc. and Hewlett Packard Co., are scheduled to release earnings next week. About 76 percent of those that have reported so far this season have beaten analyst estimates for earnings, while 65 percent have exceeded sales projections, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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