Money Matters - Simplified


Gold and dollar little changed Thursday

New York -- Gold prices held steady Thursday in New York as equities were mixed and the dollar turned flat after three days of increases.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 2.42 points or 0.02 percent. The Standard & Poor's index climbed modestly, adding 4.72 points or 0.38 percent to 1,233.00.

The dollar index rose 0.08 percent, a relatively flat performance, but one that comes after gains of 0.5 percent Tuesday and 0.17 percent Wednesday.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gold added $3.10 to $1,386.30 per troy ounce. Crude oil prices for January delivery added 17 cents to $88.45 per barrel.

Market mixed in early afternoon trading

New York -- U.S. markets opened mixed Thursday after the U.S. Department of Labor reported first-time jobless claims fell by 17,000 in the week ending Dec. 4.

As expected, the Bank of England left its overnight lending rate unchanged at 0.5 percent Thursday. The leading index in Britain rose 0.4 percent in October, the Conference Board said.

In most of Asia and Europe markets rose. The dollar index, a pro-rated measure of the greenback against six major currencies, rose 0.32 percent to 80.26, climbing for the third consecutive trading session.

Crude oil prices steady Wednesday

New York -- Crude oil prices held steady on the New York Mercantile Exchange overnight with equities mixed in Asia and Europe and the dollar index up 0.25 percent.

Traders are waiting for an afternoon report on U.S. energy stockpiles and keeping an eye on weather reports that presume a seasonal increase in a demand for heating oil.

January delivery light, sweet crude oil in New York added 2 cents overnight to $88.71 per barrel. Heating oil prices rose 0.38 cents to $2.474 per gallon. Reformulated gasoline blendstock prices lost 0.2 cents to $2.321 per gallon.

Henry Hub natural gas prices added 15.9 cents to $4.552 per million British thermal units.

Grains mixed Monday in Chicago

Cchicago -- Grain futures prices were mixed Monday in Chicago with corn and wheat up slightly, as the dollar index was flat, falling 0.06 percent.

Corn was off unchanged to up 1, soybeans were off 3 1/4 to off 3 1/2, wheat was up 2 to up 3 3/4 and oats were off 5 1/2 to off 6 1/2.

Corn found support on the Chicago Board of Trade from a lack of rain in Argentina and reports of a potential corn shortage in China. Wheat futures rose modestly with dry weather in Australia and the United States lending support. In the soybean market, beneficial rain in Brazil in the state of Mato Grosso as the planting season winds took away some price support Monday.

The prices:

Markets mixed as China tightens policy

New York -- U.S. markets were mixed Friday after the People's Bank of China tightened its monetary policy for the second time in two weeks.

China raised its reserve requirement ratio 50 basis points to slow inflation, The Wall Street Journal reported. The move will reduce the availability of loans by forcing banks to keep more capital in reserve.

In early afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial
zaverage lost 8.14 points, 0.07 percent, to 11,173.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 0.01 percent, 0.07, to 1,196.76. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.12 percent, 2.92, to 2,517.32.

The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 8/32 to yield 2.873 percent.

Grains futures mixed Thursday

Chicago -- Grain futures closed mixed on the Chicago Board of Trade Wednesday as the dollar index fell 0.22 percent.

Corn was off 3/4 to up 3/4, soybeans were off 12 1/2 to off 15, wheat was up 6 1/4 to up 8 1/2 and oats up 4 3/4.

Corn futures found some support from the weaker dollar in advance of the weekly Export Sales report due Thursday. Dry weather predicted for the central states gave support to wheat futures with a week's dry weather expected that could strain winter wheat. China indicated it would make moves to curb inflation, putting a damper on soybean futures.

The prices:

Corn: Dec. 5.25 3/4, off 3/4; Mar 5.39 1/4, off 3/4; May 5.46 1/4, up 1/4; Jul 5.50, up 3/4.

U.S. markets flat Wednesday

New York -- U.S. markets closed mixed Wednesday after the Department of Labor Statistics said consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in October.

The index came in below the consensus forecast of a 0.3 percent rise. A month ago, the index rose 0.1 percent. Core prices, which exclude food and energy, were flat, the department said.

Wall Street investors also reacted to Tuesday's selloff and to concerns over a European Union bailout for Ireland. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 178.47 points, or 1.59 percent Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 19.41 points, or 1.62 percent.

U.S. markets flat Friday

New York -- U.S. markets were mixed Friday after soaring in the previous session due to the Federal Reserve restarting a bond purchasing program.

The $600 billion program announced Wednesday pushed the Dow Jones industrial average to a height not seen since September 2008, the month Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers collapsed.

On Friday, the Department of Labor said the economy gained 151,000 jobs in October, which was not enough to lower the unemployment rate, which held at 9.6 percent.

In early afternoon trading, the DJIA gave up 8.59 points, 0.08 percent, to 11,426.25. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 0.25 percent, 3.11 points, to 1,224.17. The Nasdaq composite of tech-dominated stocks gained 0.01 percent, 0.14, to 2,577.48.

Mortgage activity down slightly in week

Washington -- The Mortgage Bankers Association said U.S. mortgage activity fell 5 percent in the latest weekly survey, as long-term interest rates were mixed.

Interest rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose from 4.25 percent to 4.28 percent while the average for 15-year fixed-rate contracts fell from 3.67 percent to 3.64 percent, the MBA said.

Average points for 30-year contracts rose from 1 to 1.07. Points for 15-year mortgages rose from 0.96 to 1.08.

The MBA's Market Composite Index, indicating the volume of new mortgage activity, fell 5 percent in the week ending Oct. 29. The Refinancing Index dropped 6.4 percent, the trade group said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

Markets mixed ahead of Fed decision

New York -- U.S. markets were tentatively higher Wednesday morning as investors waited for the Federal Reserve's afternoon announcement on monetary policy.

Expectations are high the Fed will announce a limited round of bond purchases. But how much of a boost that gives markets remains to be seen. When investors anticipate a beneficial policy decision, they often make adjustments ahead of the actual announcement.

In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 25.09 points, 0.22 percent to 11,213.81, shaking off early losses. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.13 percent, 1.52, to 1,195.09. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.05 percent, 1.30, to 2,534.82.