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Stocks mixed after last weeks sell-off
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    NEW YORK  — Wall Street traded mixed Monday as an oil price pullback encouraged investors to search for bargain stocks, particularly among blue-chip companies, after last week’s hefty losses.
    Trading was choppy, however, due to anxiety about the financial sector and signals that the world’s central banks might raise interest rates to combat inflation and a weak dollar. Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner cited rising costs and the declining dollar as big concerns in speeches Monday, while European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet reiterated that the ECB might hike rates at its next meeting in July.
    The most significant driver of inflation has been the cost of energy, which has been rising partly because the dollar has lost so much value. Though crude prices dipped to $136 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday, crude still hovers near record levels. With U.S. gasoline topping $4 a gallon, consumers’ ballooning energy bills could force them to keep paring back spending on other items.
    ‘‘Oil’s in the stratosphere here,’’ said Anthony Conroy, managing director and head trader for BNY ConvergEx Group. Soaring energy prices and a huge jump in the unemployment rate sent the Dow Jones industrial average plunging nearly 400 points on Friday.
    Also giving Wall Street pause Monday was Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s unexpectedly large quarterly loss of $2.8 billion — the investment bank’s first loss since it spun off from American Express Co. in 1994. The poor performance added to worries about the ailing financial sector.
    ‘‘The financials are a key factor in today’s market. It almost seems we’re stuck in this range, trying to figure out when the end of this whole financial crisis is over,’’ Conroy said. With the economic outlook unclear, investors leaned toward buying the stocks of large companies, he said. Blue-chip stocks tend to be more stable when the economy is weak.
    The Dow added 58.70, or 0.48 percent, to 12,268.51 after Friday’s rout, which was the worst tumble on Wall Street in 15 months. The blue chip index at times rose more than 100 points Monday.
    Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.21, or 0.02 percent, to 1,360.47, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 25.38, or 1.03 percent, to 2,449.18.
    Bond prices fell on the better-than-expected housing data, as well as ongoing jitters about inflation. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 4.02 percent from 3.91 percent late Friday.
    In addition to retreating oil prices, the Dow got a lift from robust data on pending home sales and McDonald’s sales. The National Association of Realtors said pending sales of existing homes rose more than 6 percent in April to the highest level since October, while the world’s largest hamburger chain said global sales at locations open at least a year rose 7.7 percent in May.
    McDonald’s, one of the 30 components of the Dow, rose $2.14, or 3.8 percent, to $59.09.
    Alcoa was another strong stock among the Dow Jones industrials, after the aluminum producer got a positive mention by Barron’s. Alcoa rose $1.63, or 4.2 percent, to $40.84.
    Apple Inc. weighed on the technology-dominated Nasdaq, falling $5.15, or 2.8 percent, to $180.49.
    And Lehman, which plans to raise $6 billion in new capital through a stock offering, saw its shares fall $3.48, or 10.8 percent, to $28.81. Other weak financial stocks were Washington Mutual Inc., which tumbled 80 cents, or 10.6 percent, to $6.73, and Wachovia Corp., which dropped $1.17, or 5.8 percent, to $18.96.
    The dollar rose against most other major currencies, while gold prices rose.
    Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a slim margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume amounted to a relatively light 623.8 million shares.
    The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 4.04, or 0.55 percent, to 736.33.
    Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed down 2.13 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.49 percent in late trading, Germany’s DAX index added 0.17 percent, and France’s CAC-40 inched up 0.08 percent.
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