U.S. Stocks Rise on Oil Price Decline

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U.S. stocks rose on Monday after oil prices settled below $60 a barrel, easing concerns about higher oil costs and prompting investors to shift money out of energy shares and into the undervalued technology and financial sectors.

Technology bellwether Intel Corp. (INTC) and Citigroup Inc. (C), the world's largest financial services company, were among the biggest positive influences on the blue-chip Dow average.

Shares of Intel rose 2.1 percent to $24.50 on Nasdaq.

Citigroup's stock climbed 1.8 percent to $46.43 on the New York Stock Exchange. Other banks had sharp gains, with Wachovia Corp. (WB) advancing 1.2 percent to $51.33 and US Bancorp (USB) gaining 1.4 percent to $29.09, also on the NYSE.

"Energy stocks have been the year's winners, but the weather's been gorgeous and there were a lot of overblown fears with the hurricanes," said Kevin Kruszenski, head of listed trading at McDonald Investments Inc. in Cleveland. "So sectors that have been out of favor, mainly technology and the financials, are now providing some leadership, the banks, in particular."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55.47 points, or 0.53 percent, to end at 10,586.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 2.67 points, or 0.22 percent, to finish at 1,222.81. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index gained 8.81 points, or 0.41 percent, to close at 2,178.24.

The shares of big industrial companies, with huge appetites for energy, got a boost from the sharp retreat in oil prices. Alcoa Inc. (AA), the world's biggest aluminum producer, jumped 3.1 percent, or 77 cents, to $25.94, and ranked as the Dow's biggest percentage gainer. General Motors Corp. (GM), the world's biggest automaker, shot up 1.8 percent, or 48 cents, to $27.25.

U.S. light crude oil futures for December delivery fell $1.11 to settle at $59.47 a barrel as mild weather across the northern hemisphere and recovering U.S. production eased fears that supplies could run short.

The drop in crude hurt heavily weighted energy shares, capping the market's gains. Dow component Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) shed 1.4 percent, or 80 cents, to $57.10, while Chevron Corp. (CVX) slipped 1.1 percent, or 61 cents, to $57.40, both on the NYSE.

"A 70-degree weekend in November is helping to dampen sentiment on energy stocks and it makes for a quietly better market," said Mike Driscoll, a trader at Bear Stearns in New York. "When the weather gets a little cooler, it changes people's psyches and they will warm up to energy stocks."

Both the Dow and the Nasdaq got a lift from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), up 1.3 percent, or 35 cents, at $27.01 in Nasdaq trading.

Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, has emerged as the lead suitor for a stake in Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX) Internet unit, America Online, or AOL, according to a report by The New York Times. Microsoft is among the 30 stocks in the blue-chip Dow average, but it trades on Nasdaq.

The stock of utility company TXU Corp. (TXU) jumped 7.9 percent, or $7.41, to $101.24 after it said it would split its stock, buy back shares and sharply boost its dividend. On October 3, TXU hit a 52-week high of $116.59.

In other company news, natural gas producer El Paso Corp. (EP) reported a larger third-quarter loss, hurt by a big charge and declining revenue.

El Paso shares slumped 5.8 percent, or 70 cents, to $11.31.

Shares of Guidant Corp. (GDT) fell 2.4 percent, or $1.40, to close at $57.52 on the NYSE after the medical device maker on Monday sued to force Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) to complete an agreed $25.4 billion takeover, posted lower third-quarter profits and reported a widening probe by federal investigators.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson, a Dow component, rose 0.9 percent, or 55 cents, to close at $61.43 on the NYSE.

Trading was active on the NYSE, with about 1.47 billion shares changing hands, just above last year's daily average of 1.46 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 1.79 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 1.81 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by a ratio of about 9 to 7 on the NYSE and by about 5 to 4 on the Nasdaq.