Investors paid more attention to the weather than to Wall Street this week and with good reason.
Hurricane Ivan drove oil prices back to their highest level in almost a month, disrupted more flights for the already struggling airlines and kept insurance stocks off kilter as the killer storm hunted for a target
In the end, Ivan's route proved no more erratic than the path of the market, which scored small gains today despite a discouraging consumer confidence survey from the University of Michigan.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 40 points to 10,284.46. The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index climbed six points to 1,910.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index closed up five points at 1,128.55.
For the week, the S&P and Nasdaq were up a little and the Dow was down. The Nasdaq composite gained 16 points, the S&P index was up less than 5 points and the Dow dropped 29 points.
Today the market seemed to suffer little damage from the unexpected drop in the closely watched confidence survey, just as it got little benefit from Thursday's report that inflation is totally under control.
But as Ivan swamped the southeast part of the country, oil prices jumped by $1.71 a barrel to $45.59, their highest since Aug. 23. For the week crude was up $3 a barrel, primarily because the storm disrupted production at oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and at coastal refineries.
Hurricane Jeanne is on the schedule for next week, but it is not headed toward the Gulf oil territory and is not expected to have as much impact Ivan on oil or stocks.
Next week's key event is Tuesday's Federal Reserve meeting. Despite conventional wisdom that the Fed doesn't like to raise interest rates right before a presidential election, that is what Alan Greenspan is expected to do. Greenspan has been saying the economy is getting better, so interest rates can ease back up. Any break with that policy could deliver a real jolt to Wall Street.