Market Wrap: Energy Stocks Lead Upward Movement

APTOPIX Winter Weather

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks edged higher on Monday as investors brushed off fears a leftist victory in Greece would bring fresh crisis to the Eurozone and energy stocks advanced.

The leftist, anti-bailout Syriza party won decisively in Greek parliamentary elections on Sunday, after running a campaign promising to take on Greece’s international lenders and bring about an end to austerity measures. While the United States has limited direct exposure to Greece’s relatively small economy, extended volatility in the region could hurt multinational companies. The euro was near flat at $1.1264 after falling to a new 11-year low in Asian trade.

“There was a lot of trepidation in the market going into the Greek election … but by this morning the Syriza win was priced into the market already,” said Robert Francello, head of equity trading for Apex Capital in San Francisco.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 6.1 points, or 0.03 percent, to 17,678.7, the S&P 500 (^GPSC) gained 5.27 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,057.09 and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) added 13.88 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,771.76.

Key Sectors and Firms

Energy stocks led gains on major U.S. indices after Abdulla al-Badri, OPEC’s secretary-general, told Reuters on Monday that oil prices may have reached a floor and could move higher very soon. Chevron (CVX) added 1.9 percent to $108.88 while Exxon Mobil (XOM) gained 1 percent to $91.76 as the biggest lifts to the S&P 500. The S&P energy index rose 1.4 percent.

In deal news, Rock-Tenn (RKT) and MeadWestvaco (MWV) said they would combine to form a packaging company worth $16 billion, with MeadWestvaco shareholders owning a majority stake. Rock-Tenn shares jumped 6.1 percent to $66.84 while MeadWestvaco surged 14 percent to $51.34 as the S&P 500’s biggest percentage gainer.

D.R. Horton (DHI) climbed 4.9 percent to $24.25 after the homebuilder’s revenue growth beat expectations, boosted by home deliveries. An index of homebuilder stocks rose 1.9 percent.

Ocwen Financial (OCN) jumped 8.8 percent to $6.91 after the company paid $2.5 million in penalties to the California Department of Business Oversight, which had threatened to suspend Ocwen’s license to operate in the state. About 32 million Ocwen shares exchanged hands, making it one of the New York Stock Exchange’s most active.

With 19 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported earnings, 71.6 percent have topped expectations, while 54.7 percent have beaten revenue forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters data. That compares with the long-term average of 63 percent for earnings and 61 percent for revenue.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,111 to 952, for a 2.22-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,785 issues rose and 987 fell for a 1.81-to-1 ratio favoring advancers. The benchmark S&P 500 was posting 38 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 80 new highs and 58 new lows.

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