NEW YORK – U.S. stocks moved higher in quiet trading Monday morning. The price of crude oil surged, helping to send energy companies higher. A disappointing jobs report late last week kept the gains in check. Many overseas markets were closed for holidays.
KEEPING SCORE: As of 11:17 a.m. Eastern time, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,079. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 101 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,785, and the Nasdaq composite rose 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,909. U.S. stock trading was closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.
JOBS: The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added just 126,000 workers to their payrolls last month, the smallest gain since December 2013. For markets it was mixed news. It’s another sign of weaker economic growth but also adds more pressure on the Federal Reserve to put off raising interest rates. Historically low rates have helped feed the stock market’s long run.
RESPONSE: “Had the market been open on Friday, we would have probably had a triple digit decline in the Dow,” said Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Harverford Trust. “The fact that we had a weekend to digest put it in perspective. I think more investors are coming to the conclusion that this soft patch is temporary.”
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FRIES WITH THAT? Companies in the services industry expanded at a slightly slower pace in March. The Institute for Supply Management reported Monday that its services index slipped to 56.5 last month, from 56.9 in February. Any reading above 50 reflects growth.
A DEAL: Ventas announced plans to buy Ardent Medical Services, a hospital chain, for $1.75 billion and spinning off most of its skilled nursing facilities. Ventas, an investment trust focused on health care, surged $3.52, or 5 percent, to $76.73.
NOT YET: The planned merger between Hudson City Bancorp and M&T Bank has run into another delay. Hudson City said the Federal Reserve won’t sign off on the deal before April 30, a deadline for the merger to move ahead. Hudson City Bancorp sank 67 cents, or 6 percent, to $9.81, while M&T dropped $4.39, or 3 percent, to $122.83.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices slipped slightly, nudging the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 1.89 percent. Bonds jumped on Friday following the employment report, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury down to its lowest level in two months.
QUIET ELSEWHERE: Major markets in Europe were closed for Easter Monday. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed with a loss of 0.2 percent, while Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.1 percent. India’s SENSEX surged 0.9 percent. Many other major markets, including those in Australia and China, were closed.
CRUDE: Benchmark U.S. crude jumped $2.30, or 4.7 percent, to $51.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude rose $2.69, or 5 percent, to $57.67 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London. The gains helped send energy stocks higher. Rig operator Transocean jumped 79 cents, or 5.1 percent, to $15.76.
CURRENCIES: The euro gained against the dollar, rising to $1.1023 from $1.0895 on Friday. The dollar was little changed against the Japanese currency at 119 yen.