Stocks failed to escape their October slump yesterday as a jump in crude oil and a report showing greater concern about inflation at the Federal Reserve sent share prices lower.

Early gains tied to better-than-expected earnings reports from Alcoa and Genentech were lost as oil prices moved higher. Stocks fell to the day's lows after the Fed released minutes of its Sept. 20 policy meeting mentioning inflation as a growing risk for the U.S. economy.

"Now that inflation seems to be investors' primary concern, we need energy prices to go down," said Steve Neimeth, who oversees about $1 billion at AIG SunAmerica Asset Management in Jersey City. "Companies can no longer absorb" the cost increases, he said.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index slipped 2.46, or 0.2 percent, to 1184.87. The benchmark dropped for a sixth day in seven to close at its lowest since May 17. The Nasdaq composite index fell 17.83, or 0.9 percent, to 2061.09, the lowest since July 1.

Gains in Exxon Mobil and General Motors lifted the Dow Jones industrial average for only the second time this month. The Dow rose 14.41, or 0.1 percent, to 10,253.17.


Alcoa rose 19 cents, to $22.85, after the world's biggest aluminum maker late Monday reported an increase in third-quarter profit. The company had lowered its forecast for the quarter last month because of higher raw materials and energy prices.

Genentech rose $2.59, to $84.59, after the biotechnology company's third-quarter profit exceeded analysts' estimates.

Citigroup, the world's largest financial services company, fell 43 cents, to $44.80. J.P. Morgan Chase, the third-biggest U.S. bank, slipped 21 cents, to $33.31.

Exxon Mobil gained 90 cents, to $59.40, as energy stocks climbed along with oil prices. Chevron rose $1.82, to $62.15.

General Motors gained 94 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $26.42, for the top advance in the Dow average.

NCR, the world's largest maker of automated teller machines, rose $1.29, to $32.24.


New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 4.76, to 7380.81.

American Stock Exchange index rose 1.90, to 1652.97.

Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 7.89, to 630.08.


NYSE: 2.29 billion shares, up from 2.21 billion on Monday. Decliners outnumbered advancers 5 to 3.

Nasdaq: 1.85 billion shares, up from 1.41 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers 5 to 2.


Crude oil for November delivery: $63.53, up $1.73.

Gold for current delivery: $477.10 a troy ounce, up from $475.10 on Monday.