US stock market fights for gains in Hurricane Harvey's wake – MarketWatch

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U.S. stock-market indexes traded little changed as investors gauged the effect of Hurricane Harvey that slammed into Texas over the weekend, flooding cities and forcing energy facilities to shut down.

All three main benchmarks were trading in positive territory. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.11%  rose about 1.40 points, or less 0.1%, to 2,444, with seven of the main sectors trading higher. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.41%  added 6 points, or 0.1%, to 6,271.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.06% was off 15 points, after showing firm gains at the open, most recently down 15 points, or less than 0.1%, at 21,797, with more than two-thirds of the 30 companies in the index trading higher. Home Depot Inc. HD, +0.94%  and Nike Inc NKE, +0.24%  were leading the gains, up 0.9% and 0.5% respectively, while insurance company Travelers Cos. Inc. TRV, -2.70%  led losses.

Read: Why oil prices are sinking as gasoline soars after Harvey

Now-Tropical Storm Harvey devastated Houston, the fourth-largest city in the U.S., leaving its citizens grappling with unprecedented flooding. The National Weather Service warned that rainfall may exceed a record-breaking 50 inches in areas around Houston.

The storm, which was moving toward Louisiana early Monday, knocked out almost 15% of the nation’s fuel-making capacity and further disruptions were anticipated. The coast of Texas hosts nearly 30% of U.S. refining capacity, and Houston-area plants account for roughly half of that.

That led to U.S. gasoline futures jumping nearly 6% early Monday. On the New York Mercantile Exchange. September futures RBU7, +3.07%  recently traded 5% higher at $1.750 a gallon, and the more active October contract RBV7, +2.62%  climbed nearly 4%.

Shares of energy companies were trading slightly higher even as some major companies closed refineries. The SPDR Energy Select Sector exchange-traded fund XLE, -0.49%  was up 0.3%.

Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM, -0.33%  shut its Baytown refinery—the second largest in the U.S.—in a Houston suburb because of the heavy floodwaters, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC RDS.B, -0.11%  said it stopped making fuel at its Deer Park, Texas, plant. Exxon shares were up 0.1%, while Chevron Corp. CVX, -0.30% shares are up 0.3%.

“Although the full impact of the storm’s damage is yet to be determined, the markets expect the impact will be felt globally and affect energy markets for many weeks,” analysts at FxPro said Monday. “Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, U.S. economic growth dropped by 50% in a quarter, therefore markets will be closely watching the damage from Harvey and its effect on the U.S. economy.”

Read: Insurance industry to easily absorb losses from Harvey, experts say

Economic data: The Commerce Department’s report showed that the advanced trade gap in goods—services are excluded—widened by 1.8% to $ 65.1 billion in July. Both exports and imports declined, but exports dropped at a faster pace in the month. The gap was wider than expected.

The Dallas Fed survey of manufacturing activity will be released at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

See: MarketWatch’s economic calendar

Corporates: Gilead Sciences Inc. shares GILD, +2.72%  rose 1% ahead of the bell following a Wall Street Journal report that the company will buy Kite Pharma Inc. KITE, +28.66%  for about $11 billion. Kite shares rose 16% in low premarket volume.

Shares of Expedia Inc. EXPE, -4.42%   fell 3% after news that Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi is leaving the company to become Uber’s CEO.

Aveo Pharmaceuticals Inc. AVEO, -4.21%  rallied 20% premarket after the company’s Fotivda, or tivozanib, treatment for advanced renal cell carcinoma has been approved in the European Union.

Other markets: Elsewhere in the energy markets, West Texas Intermediate oil futures CLV7, -2.30%  fell about 1% to $47.42 a barrel, and October Brent crude LCOV7, -0.99%   darted between gains and losses.

Gold prices GCZ7, +0.46%  were up 0.5% at $1304 an ounce.

The ICE Dollar Index DXY, +0.05%  was down 0.3% to 92.47 as the greenback lost ground against the yen, the euro and pound.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.05% edged up 0.1% while the Japan’s Nikkei Average NIK, -0.01%  ended fractionally lower. European equities SXXP, -0.33%  fell as the euro EURUSD, +0.2684%  hit its highest against the dollar in more than two years.

Trading in the U.K. was closed for the August bank holiday.

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