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Stocks edge higher as Syria, oil worries linger

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 07:11 AM

NEW YORK — The stock market edged higher Wednesday as investors continued to focus on the likelihood of a U.S.-led attack on Syria. Energy stocks rose sharply as the price of oil increased to the highest in more than two years.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.38 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 14,824.51. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 4.48 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,634.96. The Nasdaq composite rose 14.83 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,593.35.

The quick rise in the price of oil has caused investors to worry. Costlier oil almost always translates into higher fuel expenses for businesses and consumers, weighing on consumer spending and the economy. While Syria produces little oil, a regional conflict in the Middle East could lead to supply disruptions in an area where half the world’s proven oil reserves lie.

“When you add it all up - the problems in Libya, Egypt, Syria - you’re looking at 3 million barrels a day in potential production outages,” said Nick Koutsoftas, a commodities-focused portfolio manager at Cohen & Steers.

Oil rose $1.09, or 1 percent, to $110.10 a barrel, the highest price since May 2011. It went as high as $112 a barrel overnight.

Energy companies were the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Marathon Oil rose $1.22, or 4 percent, to $34.60 and Dow component Chevron climbed $3, or 3 percent, to $121.81.

While the selling in stocks appears to have abated for now, the overall trend for the market has been down over the last couple of weeks.

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