The price of crude oil climbed to a new record high today, ending the stock market's winning streak.
After climbing seven days in a row, the Dow Jones industrial average retreated, slipping 14 points to 10,609.11. The five-day streaks of the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index and the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index also ended, with the S&P losing less than a point to 1,216.10 and the Nasdaq composite falling two points to 2,088.13.
Stocks got a pre-opening setback from the Conference Board's closely watched Index of Leading Economic Indicators, which took an unexpectedly large drop last month. Economists had been predicting a small decline, but the index dropped by 0.5 percent, suggesting the outlook for the next few months is even rockier than previously believed.
Oil could be a big reason for the concerns about the economy because prices are running 40 to 60 percent higher than a year ago and look to be going higher.
In today's trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil closed at a record price for the second day in a row -- up 90 cents to $59.37 a barrel.
With $60 a barrel crude just around the corner, market mavens were predicting the oil prices would not stop there and could move to the mid-sixties.
As that oil flows through pipelines and refineries, it will emerge as the most costly gasoline ever, industry experts warned. By mid-July or early August -- as the summer vacation season is peaking -- prices at the pump are expected to rise substantially.
The nationwide average gasoline price hit a record high in April at $2.28 a gallon and then retreated. Today, the Department of Energy says it is at $2.16 a gallon, up for the third week in a row.
Rising oil prices often produce a falling stock market, but today Wall Street pretty much held its own. The indexes were all in positive territory going into the last hour of trading, when the oiled market lost traction.