Stocks Inch Up, Boosted by Energy Shares

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Stocks edged up on Monday as a jump in oil prices sparked gains in energy shares including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), while Boeing Co. (BA) rose on news of a labor union pact, lifting the blue-chip Dow.

Nonetheless, stocks ended well off the day's highs as uncertainty over damage to energy facilities by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina prompted the rally in crude prices. That limited gains in the broader market by renewing worry about the effect of high fuel costs on the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 24.04 points, or 0.23 percent, at 10,443.63 and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.34 of a point, or 0.03 percent, at 1,215.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed up 4.62 points, or 0.22 percent, at 2,121.46.

U.S. crude settled 2.5 percent higher at $65.82 a barrel after falling as low as $62.65 earlier. Rita was the second major hurrica American Stock Exchange (search) energy index advanced nearly 2 percent.

"The primary catalyst in the market remains energy, it continues to rule the day," Anthony Chan, senior economist, JPMorgan Asset Management, said. "But then we saw that energy prices started to go up, and that took some of the luster off the gains."

Boeing shares rose 2.3 percent to $64.67 on the NYSE after news that the aerospace company reached a tentative agreement over the weekend with the workers who build its jetliners, setting the stage for a quick end to their 25-day-old strike.

Insurance company stocks rose after Rita proved far less damaging than originally expected to property along the Gulf Coast. Insured losses for the industry from Rita are forecast to be between $2.5 billion and $7 billion compared with a high of $60 billion from Hurricane Katrina last month.

American International Group Inc. (AIG) rose 1 percent to $60.69 on the NYSE.

Walgreen Co. (WAG) , the largest U.S. drug store chain, posted a 1.4 percent rise in quarterly profit, but the chain missed Wall Street estimates due to costs from Hurricane Katrina. Walgreen shares fell 2.4 percent at $41.50.

Shares of heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) fell after the company was downgraded by Citigroup. Caterpillar shares slipped nearly 1 percent to $58.34 on the NYSE.

Trading was active, with 1.6 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, above the 1.46 billion daily average for last year. About 1.5 billion shares were traded on Nasdaq, below the 1.81 billion daily average last year.

The number of stocks advancing on the NYSE outnumbered those on the decline by fewer than 2-to-1. On Nasdaq, advancers led decliner by about 3-to-2.