US stocks wobbled and finished mostly lower Monday as the price of oil continued to nosedive thanks to the strong dollar. Energy companies took the biggest losses as U.S. crude hovered around $40 US a barrel, its lowest price in almost four months, and materials companies also traded lower.
Every oil, gas and pipeline company on the Standard & Poor’s 500 finished lower as a slump in the price of oil and other fuels extended into a third week. The losses for energy and mining, chemical and building companies canceled out gains for technology and health care companies. A survey showed U.S. manufacturing continued to grow in July, but did so at a slower pace than the month before. That, too, is linked to strength in the dollar.
Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.54 US, or 3.7 per cent, to $40.06 a barrel in New York, while Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gave up $1.39, or 3.2 per cent, to $42.14 a barrel in London. The price of oil has fallen 13 per cent in a little more than two weeks and during the day it traded below $40 a barrel for the first time since April 8. Exxon Mobil fell $3.09, or 3.5 per cent, to $86.85, its biggest loss since January. Chevron shed $3.37, or 3.3 per cent, to $99.11.
Ionis Pharmaceuticals rose after it said a drug designed to treat spinal muscular atrophy in infants worked in a late-stage clinical study. It also said drugmaker Biogen exercised an option to develop the drug globally and will pay Ionis $75 million. Biogen plans to start seeking marketing approval for the drug, nusinersen, in the next few months. Ionis surged $8.82, or 30.2 per cent, to $38.01 and Biogen gained $11.90, or 4.1 per cent, to $301.83, more than any other S&P 500 stock.
Those moves helped pull health care stocks higher. Technology and consumer stocks also gained ground, and the S&P 500 consumer company and tech indexes reached annual highs. Netflix rose $3.12, or 3.4 per cent, to $94.37 and Apple added $1.84, or 1.8 per cent, to $106.05.