Stocks finish at 2-month highs

Worries that the Strait of Hormuz may get blocked push oil prices up some 4%. Brent crude tops $100. US factory orders grow in May. June auto sales are strong; SUVs do well. Barclay's CEO quits. Microsoft takes a $6.2 billion writedown.

By Charley Blaine Jul 3, 2012 12:32PM

Charley BlaineUpdated: 8:52 p.m. ET

Stocks finished a holiday-shortened day at their best levels in two months in a rally built on geopolitical worries.

Fears that Iran might block the Strait of Hormuz briefly pushed crude crude oil (-CL) above $88 a barrel in New York. Brent, the benchmark North Sea crude oil, passed $100 for the first time since June 6. Gold (-GC) also moved higher.

The crude surge set off a big rally in oil- and gas-production stocks and oil-services stocks. The energy sector of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) was up more than 2.5% and was the top-performing sector of the index.


Markets are closed Wednesday for the July 4 holiday.

Oil's gains came as auto sales for June were better than expected, with Chrysler, General Motors (GM) and Ford Motor (F) all beating expectations. Toyota (TM) sales missed estimates but were up more than 60% from a year ago. Meanwhile, factory orders in May were better than expected, cheering many investors worried that manufacturing was softening.

The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) closed up 72 points to 12,944, close to their high on the day. The S&P 500 gained 9 points to 1,374, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) rose 25 points to 2,976. The Dow's close was its best since May 7. The S&P and Nasdaq had their best finishes since May 3.

Article continues below.

The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX), which tracks the largest Nasdaq stocks, gained 21 points to 2,646, its best finish since May 13. The index was led by gains in Netflix (NFLX), Micron Technologies (MU) and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR). Apple (AAPL), the biggest influence on the index, rose $6.89 to $599.41, contributing 5.8 points to the gain.

U.S. stock markets closed at 1 p.m. ET. Futures markets were scheduled for a normal day of trading. Markets will operate normally on Thursday.

Tensions rise in the Persian Gulf region
Crude oil settled at $87.66 a barrel in New York, up $3.91, or 4.7%, on the day. Brent crude was up $3.27 to $100.61 a barrel at 3 p.m. ET; it had traded as high as $101.58.

Light sweet crude, the benchmark U.S. crude, is up 12.8% since Thursday's close of $77.69 a barrel. Brent is up 12.8% since hitting a bottom on June 21.

The Strait of Hormuz is the narrow pass through which oil tankers must travel to leave the Persian Gulf. Some 20% of the world's crude oil passes through it. To block the pass would cause major disruptions in the world's oil markets.

The tensions are rising because of Western efforts to get Iran to halt its nuclear development program. Western nations are imposing sanctions on Iranian crude.

The United States was reported to have significantly increased its military presence in the Persian Gulf region, The Guardian newspaper in London reported. The U.S. doubled the number of its minesweepers while bringing in stealth warplanes, in part as a deterrent to any Iranian attempt to close the strait.

In a war-games exercise, Iran test-fired medium-range missiles capable of hitting US bases in the region or Israel. The Iranian parliament called an urgent debate on a bill to block at least some oil tankers in the Gulf, and there were reports that the leadership might be considering announcing a new, higher level of uranium enrichment.

Energy shares surged with crude. Chevron (CVX) was up $1.51 to $107.37. Exxon Mobil (XOM) added 94 cents to $86.28. Anadarko Petroleum (APC) rose $3.39 to $69.05.

Gold settled up $24.10 to $1,621.80 an ounce, a two-week high. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) was up $1.33 to $35.21. Newmont Mining (NEM) added $1.24 to $49.73.

Silver (-SI) climbed 78 cents to $28.28 an ounce. Copper (-HG) rose 7.1 cents to $3.54 a pound.

Energy prices -- New York close



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(per barrel)

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Unleaded gasoline (-RB)




(per gallon)

Brent crude 




(per barrel)

Retail gasoline




(per gallon; AAA)

actory orders rebound
Orders placed with U.S. factories rose in May for the first time in three months, easing concern that manufacturing is faltering. The 0.7% increase in bookings followed a revised 0.7% drop in April, the Commerce Department said.

Outside of primary metals (down by 1.8% and likely reflecting price effects) and weakness in computers and electronics (-0.1%), there were broad increases in orders across the board in May, Nomura Securities noted, but that comes after two straight months of broad-based weakness in orders across many categories.

A decent month for auto sales
General Motors and Chrysler reported double-digit sales of new vehicles in June as the auto industry was helped by lower gas prices and steady demand. Ford sales were up 7%. Most other manufacturers also reported higher U.S. sales.

The industry was sold vehicles at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 14.1 million units, up 2.2% from May's sales rate of 13.78 million units and up 21.8% from June 2011's rate of 11.56 million units. It was fifth month out of six so far in 2012 that the sales rate has been above 14 million units.

The automakers reported total sales for the month of 1.29 million units, up from 1.05 million units in June 2011 and 1.33 million units in May 2012.

The gains will be offset by lower sales in Europe. Ford and GM have already warned that their European operations are likely to show sizable second-quarter loses.

GM said today that its sales in the United States increased 15.5% during the month to 248,000 vehicles, which the company said was its best monthly performance in nearly four years.

Chrysler reported a 20% increase over the previous year, marking its best June sales since 2007. Ford said its June sales rose 7%, with sport utility vehicles and trucks leading the way.

The results beat analysts’ expectations, as the overall auto industry continued its methodical recovery from the recession.

Toyota's big sales gain was distorted by the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that disrupted the manufacturing of auto parts.

Volkswagen sales were up 28.7%

Stocks of all the automakers were higher.

If there was a downside, it came in heavy trucks reported by Ford and GM. The total was 555 in June, down from 568 in May and 722 a year ago. Heavy truck sales for the companies this year peaked in April with 692 deliveries. Some of that decline, CNBC's Jim Cramer suggested earlier this week, may be to a slowdown in oil-and-gas drilling this spring.

LIBOR scandal claims a big victim
The market's gains overshadowed the growing banking scandal in Britain over manipulation of interest rates.

Robert Diamond, the CEO of Barclay's (BCS), Britain's largest bank, resigned as the implications of a global probe into bid-rigging involving the London Interbank Offering Rate grew. Jerry del Missier, named chief operating officer only last month, also stepped down.

The scandal involves traders from at least 12 other global banks agreeing to manipulate the LIBOR rate. This is the benchmark rate that banks use to lend money to each other and is used to price everything from credit card rates to complex financial derivatives. Calculated daily, it depends on information supplied by banks. But Barclay's traders were able to manipulate the data to boost the bank's profits.

Barclay's American Depositary Units (ADR) were off 23 cents to $10.54 in New York.

JPMorgan shares drop; market shrugs off Microsoft write-off
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) shares fell 10 cents to $35.88 after influential analyst Meredith Whitney downgraded the stock to "hold" from "outperform."

The stock has been pummeled after the banking giant revealed a trading loss in May estimated at $2 billion. Many analysts peg the loss at considerably more than $2 billion, probably around $4 billion. JPMorgan releases its second-quarter earnings release on July 13 and is expected to offer more details about the problem.

Traders shrugged off Microsoft's (MSFT) announcement late Monday that it was writing off virtually all of its $6.3 billion purchase of aQuantive, a Web marketing company. Shares were up 20 cents to $30.65. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)

Facebook (FB) shares were up 43 cents to $31.20 after two days of declines. One potential reason for the gain was news that General Motors may advertise on Facebook again. The companies have traded thoughts on how GM could get better results from ads on Facebook.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close



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Corn (-ZC)




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Crude oil (-CL)




(per barrel)


Jul 4, 2012 8:29PM

Yeah devaluation....Or what the stupid Congress almost let happen about a year ago or so....


If we have a default or near default...It cost us 10s maybe 100s of Billions?.....They were idiots. 

Jul 4, 2012 6:56PM

To start with, devaluation is not an alternative to sovereign default. When a government decides to devalue, savers who trusted the currency to store their wealth, and creditors who bought bonds denominated in the currency, find the value of their assets cut. That’s sovereign default by a different name.


Dah. what do yo think the US's been doing for the last 4 and 40 years?

Jul 4, 2012 4:07PM

I'll have to try that Bagel combination....


Tomato, tomatoe; Potatoe, potato......And then you have just plain 'Taters.


Yes, it was an M-80 or a Silver Salute....About the same effect.....


It is nap time.........zzzzzzzzzz

Jul 4, 2012 3:08PM

Yes I did.....Never had a tomatoe on a Bagel, but do like tomato and cheese sandwiches.


And slices on a plate with mayo/salad dressing and pepper........uummm.

Jul 4, 2012 3:04PM

Man is it HOT.......2nd day we have hit a 100+...Today @ 1:35 pm, Yesteday @ 1:45 pm.


Hotter then a: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" .....or a


"Exploding Frog on a Hot Grill."


I have a story about a similiar frog, won't tell it because we were young and stupid.

Jul 4, 2012 2:54PM
I dunno.....Maybe Left Leaning Commies are much more intelligent......Sweet Geezus???
Jul 4, 2012 2:49PM

If it helps........This is the EASY way.....


Bookmark.....Put in Favorites.


It should come up as "Latest Dispatches- MSN Money" as a browser Title in Favorites.

Jul 4, 2012 11:45AM

Yup.....Dogs and Cats, don't usually mix too well with Fireworks...


Our mutts don't even like it, when I get a gun out....


And we always use bottle rockets to scare things off.....Works well.

Especially the ones that whistle too........weeeeeeee------kaboom.!!

Jul 4, 2012 10:59AM

Asian Markets did pretty good and Europe is mixed with a very slight upside..Those pesky bad news stories and corruption.

Our Thursday will probably be down a notch ??


But, we should have a pretty good week, when all is said and done.......

Jul 4, 2012 10:55AM

Kinda hard to judge old Bloomberg, maybe getting more eccentric and starting to lose it; The longer he's in office....Uber rich tend to do that with more power.

BUT the people like him and keep re-electing him..


I'll take 3 of those sodas please...(instead of 1).....Yeah that made a lot of sense.

Jul 4, 2012 10:13AM

Does anyone find it hypocritical that the Mayor of NY just passes the "Soda Size " law defending it as protecting the people against getting fat, in the same week he is the official judge of a Hot Dog eating contest?


Too funny, if it were not true...

Jul 4, 2012 10:09AM

Hopefully pretty damn quick.......

Think it might be a Bagel today with Cream cheese...Add a bowl of Honey Oats or Raisin Bran..?

With coffee and a glass of Strawberry/Kiwi juice....Always plenty of Coffee

And I can't eat those "heart/vein busters", everyday, because i'm considered a heart patient. Quad by-pass,and the meds help keep my cholesterol down and my ticker on schedule. 13-14 years out.

My numbers are very good..

Miss Lilly cleaning in the kitchen,I don't get in her way; When shes done, I'm fixing my stuff..... 

Jul 4, 2012 9:37AM

The CURRENT Administration is doing and excellent job of Border control.....COMPARED to:

The PREVious "AdministrationS"..

Less people slipping in.....

More people being detained...

And more people being Deported...


Anyway, HAVE..........A NICE 4TH. of JULY.....Stay cool....

Jul 3, 2012 10:26PM

Theoretically, a healthier country will lead to lower insurance costs for everone. So, the question becomes what bothers you more, lower insurance costs or a small number of illegal immigrants getting a free pass.

It helps if you can think a few steps ahead. This is not about Right vs. Left, legals vs. illegals.

Call it an investment.

Jul 3, 2012 10:10PM
I now know something I never knew before. The SCOTUS can rewrite the law so that it fits the case that it's related too. They not only can tell you whether the situation is legal or not under the law of the land, if it isn't they can rewrite it so that it is, vote on that and uphold it without consulting the people, Congress or anyone else. One , hell of a scary situation we've entered into here. Congress just lost all it's powers.
Jul 3, 2012 9:03PM

Spooker35're not too bright are you ?? You're kind of a moron aren't you??


Where do you live in a foreign country or out back behind the crab shack??


The dollar was up today I believe.?...Maybe some tonight.?....It didn't tank! at least not very much ?


Who you trying to scare people on here or little children on your block...

Why do people like typical morons or idiots hang around here without any worthwhile information. ?

Jul 3, 2012 8:44PM
Guess I could be number 100 and say I won the game.........
Jul 3, 2012 8:35PM
Classic Lady. 

Yes it is a TAX- but that doesn't mean your taxes go UP! Only people that decide not to pay for Healthcare get a Tax that increases each year. And this number of people is smaller than 1% of the middle class! I don't understand what the big deal is!
Jul 3, 2012 7:46PM
Classic Lady   The only way you pay is if you decide not to get health care when you can afford it! Have you read anything beyond what FOX tells you? Have you read the bill? Judging from your ignorant posts, you haven't. This bill may not be perfect, but it is a million times better than the NOTHING the Republicans offer! The one health bill they tried to talk about would cost more to implement with fewer people covered! Those aren't my facts, they come from every economist on the topic as well as the CBO! You have absolutely no credibility on this topic! Or, you just like to have the pharmecutical companies and insurance companies deciding your health care. Oh, and by the way, under this bill, insurance companies will have to spend more on YOUR care than they pay for CEO bonuses and advertising! I would say, if for no other reason, we HAVE to keep The Affordable Care Act!
Jul 3, 2012 7:11PM

It's President Obamas fault that the stock market is up!! If your going to blame him when it's down, you have to blame him when it's up!! Happy early 4th of July!!


PS  What does The Affordable Care Act have to do with this article? It's a done deal. The Supreme Court said so. Stop whining. Start thinking about how to make the law better, not how to start the process all over again! Health care has been talked about for 50 years or more!! This President FINALLY got something accomplished that will help MILLIONS of people while only penalizing less than 1% of the people WHO CAN AFFORD IT BUT CHOOSE NOT TO INSURE THEMSELVES!

And then WE pay for THEM in HIGHER PREMIUMS. READ IT before you say things that are obviously misleading, if not downright lies!

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More


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