The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off its session lows thanks to a surge in oil prices , but was struggling to turn positive as President Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey continues to reverberate throughout Wall Street. Comey's dismissal and the fallout on Trump's approval rating could sidetrack the president's agenda to lower corporate taxes and raise infrastructure spending.
But despite a second day lower, the benchmark averages remain wedged in a razor-thin range for a twelfth consecutive session as investors weigh bloated stock valuations with the likelihood for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for a third time next month.
Oil futures were nearly 3% higher at midday after an oil industry report showed a greater-than-expected drop in inventory levels. As a result, the energy sector of the S&P 500 is leading advancers with a substantial gain, lifting the index into the green.
Economic data helped the major indices trim some of their pre-market losses with import and export prices both increasing by more than expected in April. Import prices were up 0.5%, while export prices rose a more benign 0.2%, beating expectations for a gain of 0.1% for both.
European bourses were mostly higher with energy shares underpinning most market averages. The UK's FTSE-100 closed at a seven-week high on gains in commodity stocks despite a small rebound in sterling.
Crude oil was up $1.66 to $47.57 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.08 to $3.31 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $4.80 to $1,220.90 an ounce, while silver was up $0.17 to $16.23 an ounce. Copper was up $0.01 to $2.49 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 3.24% to $9.88 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 2.69% to 7.64. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 2.02% to 21.95 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.15% to $116.23. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.46% to $15.37.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index was up 24.61 points (+0.21%) to 11,592.13
Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 15.54 points (-0.07%) to 20,960.02
S&P 500 was up 1.14 points (+0.05%) to 2,398.01
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.95 points (-0.06%) to 6,116.43
FTSE 100 was up 43.03 points (+0.59%) to 7,385.24
DAX was up 8.34 points (+0.07%) to 12,757.46
CAC 40 was up 2.45 points (+0.05%) to 5,400.46
Nikkei 225 was up 57.09 points (+0.29%) to 19,900.09
Hang Seng Index was up 126.39 points (+0.51%) to 25,015.42
Shanghai China Composite Index was down 27.74 points (-0.90%) to 3,052.78
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index was up 141.06 points (+1.34%) to 10,648.45
NYSE Financial Sector Index was up 22.26 points (+0.31%) to 7,242.81
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was down 35.32 points (-0.26%) to 13,067.47
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