Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.18%, S&P +0.34%, Nasdaq +0.69%, Oil -1.75%, Gold +0.66%.
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Today’s markets were up because:
1) Oil. Investors have been keeping a close eye on Iran, as the nuclear conflict pushed crude futures up nearly 9 percent in seven days to a 9-month high of above $109 a barrel on Friday. Unsurprisingly, the rise in oil prices has translated into higher gas prices at the pump, with the national average rising for 21 days straight. So consumers most certainly took notice when crude futures eased Tuesday for the second consecutive day, lessening concern that higher gas prices could cause the economic recovery to stall.
2) Sentiment. Consumer confidence rose to its highest in a year this month, according to a Conference Board gauge, as employment prospects improved and stock markets continued to stage a rally that has seen them recover pre-Recession levels. If that consumer confidence in turn spurs spending, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of the U.S. economy, then Americans will really have something to be happy about.
3) Goods. Durable goods orders plunged 4 percent in January to a 3-year low, according to a Commerce Department reported today, dampening some of the positive sentiment that led markets in an early rally. The decline in orders for everything from household appliances to aircraft would seem to indicate that the economic recovery may not be so robust as recent job figures have led people to believe.