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Oil Prices, Market Head Different Ways

March 14 - 18, 2005

By Bill Brubaker
The Washington Post
Sunday, March 20, 2005; Page F12


Oil prices soared. Stock prices sank.

That was the tune again last week as crude oil prices jumped 4.2 percent, to $56.72 a barrel. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.39 percent, to close the week at 10,629.67. The S&P 500-stock index ended down 0.87 percent, at 1189.65. And the Nasdaq composite index fell 1.66 percent, to 2007.79, its lowest finish of the year.

Wall Street also wasn't overjoyed with a report on the economy. Spurred by rising gasoline prices, the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped to 92.9 in early March from 94.1 last month, the lowest since November.

This week, investors will keep an eye on the Federal Reserve and two reports on February economic data as signals of whether inflation should be a worry.

Tomorrow, the producer price index will be released. Tuesday, the Fed will probably raise the nation's benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point, to 2.75 percent, analysts say. The consumer price index comes Wednesday.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company