Wall Street woke up feeling better today and spent the trading session focusing on investment fundamentals instead of violence, oil prices and economic events.
The four-day streak of energy price increases also broke, with both crude oil and gasoline futures trading lower. The government's report on energy stockpiles comes out tomorrow and today traders were betting that it will show more product in the tanks. That could temporarily stall escalating prices, but predictions are prices -- particularly for gas -- will continue to move higher as the summer vacation season opens.
Recovering from the Monday selloff that was set off by the killing of Iraq's interim leader, stock prices recovered part of the previous day's losses.
For a change, the market traded in a relatively stable range -- unmoved even by the reappointment of Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve chairman. The market opened on the upside and ended the day with roughly the same kind of gains that started the session.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 62 points to 9968.51.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index jumped 21 points to 1897.82.
The Standard & Poors 500 stock index picked up 7 points, closing at 1091.49.
Greenspan's reappointment did not produce a discernable wiggle in the trading track, but that was to be expected because no one had any doubt that President Bush would give him another term.
How long Greenspan stays is uncertain. The term as chairman that he was nominated for is four years. But Greenspan's term is a board member expires in just two years. That's also when the 78-year-old Fed chief hits 80 and speculation is that he would retire at that point.
One of the things Street likes about Greenspan is his predictability and right now the odds are considered close to 100 percent that Greenspan will raise rates when the Fed takes up the topic next month.
Ordinarily a Fed chairman who raised rates right before a presidential election might be in trouble with the White House, but Greenspan is so popular than no one in the Bush administration is even talking about that. Since Democrats also love him, reconfirmation will be a love-fest.
Market commentators today focused on corporate profits -- which continue to look solid -- and shrugged off concerns that had been weight down stock prices. For example retail stocks rebounded even though merchants continued to fret that $2 a gallon gasoline is burning up money that otherwise could be spent on other things.