U.S. stocks rallied to a sharply higher close Tuesday (Feb. 14), after a surge in January retail sales and a drop in crude-oil prices to a six-week low lifted the Dow Jones Industrial Average above the psychologically key 11,000 mark for the first time since January.
CBS MarketWatch reported that the Dow Jones Industrial Average at its unofficial close was up 136.23 at 11,028.55, its largest one-day gain since Jan. 3. The S&P 500 rose 12.63 points to 1,275.49 and the Nasdaq Composite increased 22.36 points to 2,262.17.
Crude-oil futures closed under $60 a barrel Tuesday for the first time in seven weeks and the March contract for natural gas finished at one-year low as traders shrugged off the latest news on Iran’s nuclear research program to focus on the ample supply of U.S. inventories.
“February seems to be a month that is focused on large energy supply, but little concern with the world around us,” said Phil Flynn, a senior analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago.
Crude for March delivery fell to a low of $59.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a level not seen since Dec. 28, 2005. It closed at $59.57, down $1.67, or 2.7%.
March unleaded gasoline fell 4.63 cents to end the session at $1.3849 a gallon – its weakest level since late May. March heating oil fell back to its early June levels, down 2.86 cents to close at $1.61 a gallon.
Overall, “the warm January has permitted a window of opportunity to stage an early refinery turnover, longer-term weather forecasts call for a warm conclusion to the heating season, and gasoline has been quickly rebuilding stockpiles in advance of summer,” Michael Fitzpatrick, an analyst at Fimat USA, said in a note to clients.
A strong January retail report also bounced stocks. Retail sales outpaced expectations and rose a seasonally adjusted 2.3% in January as gasoline and automobile sales strengthened, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.