updated 1/11/2007 7:14:23 AM ET 2007-01-11T12:14:23

Wall Street managed a modest gain Wednesday after investors fretted over the impact of falling oil prices but were nonetheless inspired to buy following upbeat news from Alcoa Inc. and Apple Computer Inc.

Major Market Indices

The market began the session with fresh concern that oil’s decline would hurt profits in the energy sector and scare off money from sources like hedge funds that have helped push stocks higher in recent months. Adding to that sense was a profit warning from Chevron Corp. Investors’ unease about sliding prices was a marked departure from that seen last summer and in subsequent months, when rising oil raised the specter of a jump in inflation.

Investors eventually turned their attention to bullish news such as word that US Airways Group Inc. raised its bid for Delta Air Lines Inc. by 20 percent to $10.2 billion. They were also pleased by news from Apple, which unveiled long-awaited plans for a mobile phone , as well as by a solid profit report from Alcoa.

“There are good underlying economic fundamentals. The buyers are starting to get a little more courageous in coming off the sidelines,” said Al Goldman, chief market strategist with A.G. Edwards & Sons. “Markets take a rest, and the sellers do their dastardly deeds and the buyers become a little more aggressive and then you lift up.”

The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day up 25.56 points, or 0.21 percent, while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index added 2.74 points, or 0.19 percent. The technology-rich Nasdaq composite index ended the session up 15.50 points, or 0.63 percent.

Bonds fell on the slide in crude oil prices and following a report that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in November. Both trends were seen as boosting the economy, and perhaps leading to a rise in interest rates. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 4.69 percent from 4.66 percent late Tuesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Wednesday’s trading resembled that of Monday, in which stocks were lower for much of the session before moving higher near the close. The gains Monday weren’t widespread, however, as advancing issues nearly equaled decliners on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.57 billion shares compared with 1.70 billion Tuesday.

Light, sweet crude was down $1.62 at $54.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have been hurt as unseasonably high temperatures have weakened demand in large parts of the U.S. and Europe. Oil fell further Wednesday after weekly domestic inventory data from the Energy Department showed a drop of 5 million barrels of crude and an increase of 5.4 million barrels of distillates such as home heating oil.

In economic news, the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit fell for a third straight month in November as exports of products such as commercial airplanes reached a new high and as the cost of importing foreign oil fell to the lowest level in 16 months. The deficit fell 1 percent to $58.2 billion in November.

In corporate news, the concerns about falling oil prices and Chevron’s profit warning sent the company’s stock down $1.22 to $69.41. The company also cited lower production and lower earnings from its refining business.

US Airways raised its offer for Delta, hoping to pressure the bankrupt airline’s creditors to sign off on a deal that Delta has come out against. Investors applauded US Airways’ move; the stock rose $1.03 to $58.93. Delta was up 10 cents, or 7.7 percent, to $1.40.

Apple, which announced plans to change its name to Apple Inc. as it continues its move beyond computers, rose $4.43, or 4.8 percent, to $97. The stock hit an all-time high of $97.80 after unveiling its iPhone. The stock’s previous high was $93.15.

Aluminum producer Alcoa, one of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials, advanced $1.71, or 6 percent, to $30.23, after reporting late Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit jumped 60 percent.

Shares of C.A. Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, or CANTV, rebounded somewhat Wednesday amid reports Venezuela would compensate companies whose assets could be seized under a plan by President Hugo Chavez to nationalize CANTV as well as electrical companies and several oil projects. The company’s American Depositary Receipts rose $1.80, or 14.8 percent, to $14. Venezuela’s largest telephone company, the only Venezuelan ADR listed on the NYSE, saw a sell-off Monday after Chavez announced the plan; the ADRs had been around $20 before the announcement.

Placer Sierra Bancshares rose $3.66, or 15.6 percent, to $27.19 after the regional bank agreed to be acquired by financial services company Wells Fargo & Co. in a stock swap worth about $645 million. Wells Fargo was off 11 cents at $35.48.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed down 1.71 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed down 0.57 percent, Germany’s DAX index fell 0.72 percent and France’s CAC-40 was down 0.56 percent.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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