Stock prices ran into the wall of worry about energy prices again today, falling after an opening rally as they've done so often lately.
The initial buying faded along with hope that Saudi Arabia's offer to increase oil production by 2 million barrels a day will bring down energy prices.
The pullback in crude oil prices that followed the Saudi announcement last week was more than made up today as crude jumped $1.79 a barrel, pushing the price back toward $42 a barrel in the New York futures market.
Gasoline futures jumped almost a nickel a gallon in New York.
And the bi-weekly Lundberg survey of prices at the pump showed the nationwide average has increased 14 cents a gallon in the past two weeks.
Oil analysts ticked off a lengthy list of reasons why prices jumped today: A big oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico had to be shut down because of a leak. A pipeline serving the Pacific Northwest also was closed by an accident. A refinery in Iraq was out of service.
The extra oil offered by the Saudis won't begin flowing until next month and won't be enough to offset the summer surge in demand that traditionally starts with the Memorial Day weekend, oil experts said.
Even without energy worries, the Dow Jones industrial average would have had a rough day because of a federal court decision that knocked more than $4 a share off the stock of Altria Group, the company that owns the Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds tobacco businesses. The court refused to throw out a racketeering count in a lawsuit against the cigarette makers, which potentially makes them liable for $280 billion in damages.
The drop in Altria stock alone knocked almost 31 points off the Dow, which closed down 8 points at 9,958.43. The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index gained 11 points to 1,922.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index was up almost 2 points at 1,095.34.