Market Recap: Markets Mixed on U.S. Economy and EU Debt Crisis

Markets closed mixed on Wall Street today: Dow +0.22%, S&P -0.04%, Nasdaq -0.60%, Oil -1.20%, Gold +0.16%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $97.74 a barrel. Precious metals were up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,730.00 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) climbed 2.44% to settle at $32.34.

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Today’s markets were mixed because:

1) U.S. economy. The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators in the U.S. surprised to the upside Friday. The latest reading rose 0.9% in October, better than the 0.6% rise economists expected, a sign that the American economy may pick up in the coming months.

2) EU. Borrowing costs in Italy and Spain eased after record high levels in recent days pressured the broader market, a signal that bond investors are less fearful of a default by those countries. However, leaders of Germany and the U.K. were unable reconcile their differences on plans for European treaty changes and a financial transaction tax at a meeting in Berlin today after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi had criticized euro-zone leaders earlier in the day for failing to follow through with plans to resolve the debt crisis.

3) Companies. Companies that rely most heavily on economic expansion to make money were the best-performing stocks today. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) popped 2.57%, more than any of the Dow’s other 29 components. Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) rose 2.07%. However, after a couple of disappointing earnings reports, ketchup-maker H.J. Heinz Co. (NYSE:HNZ) and retailer Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) both slid deep into negative territory.

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