* U.S. stocks flat to lower as Wall Street reopens after
* Euro holds within recent ranges ahead of U.S. jobs data
* Oil above $109 a barrel as U.S. East Coast refineries
* Gasoline futures gain on refinery concerns, lumber futures
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Oct 31 Wall Street resumed trading on
Wednesday with shares moving lower after monster storm Sandy
forced a two-day closure due to weather for the first time since
1888, but U.S. gasoline futures surged in the face of
potentially long-term supply disruptions at the East Coast's
The storm left swaths of the region crippled by flooding and
power outages, suggesting lower fuel consumption. But gasoline
futures for November hit their highest level in more than two
weeks as traders scrambled to cover positions ahead of the
contract's expiry later Wednesday.
U.S. lumber futures soared on expectations for increased
demand, while gasoline surged on concerns that a Phillips 66
refinery in Linden, New Jersey, could shut for an extended
period after Sandy cut power to the plant that produces 238,000
barrels a day of fuel.
The storm, which killed at least 50 people, may cause up to
$15 billion in insured losses, according to one
disaster-modeling company. Speculators were behind much of the
buying in lumber and gasoline futures in anticipation of rising
demand, traders said.
"You see a lot of funds hedging themselves and speculation
there could be a lot of damage" from Sandy, said Richard
Ilczyszyn, chief market strategist and founder of iitrader.com
LLC in Chicago.
Contracts for November, January and March lumber futures on
the Chicago Mercantile Exchange rose by the daily trading limit
of $10 per thousand board feet and remained locked at those
levels, effectively shutting down trading.
Many traders were unable to get to their offices or work
from home because of wide-ranging power outages and no or
limited public transit across the region.
The New York Stock Exchange re-opened, though not everything
was back to normal. Cell phone reception was sketchy on NYSE's
floor, so traders milled outside to make calls, e-mail or text.
"The open was a positive relief after four days of sitting
on edge," said Larry Leibowitz, chief operating officer at the
exchange's operator, NYSE Euronext. "No matter how much
planning you do, you can't foresee that kind of flooding."
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 12.37
points, or 0.09 percent, at 13,094.84. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 0.45 points, or 0.03 percent, at 1,411.49.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.47 percent, or
14.11 points, at 2,973.84.
MSCI's all-country world equity index was
down 0.03 percent at 329.02, on track for its first monthly loss
since May. The index has gained more than 10 percent so far this
In Europe, stocks dipped after a mixed batch of corporate
earnings, pressured by heavyweight British oil and gas firm BG
Group, which warned of no production growth next year.
The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.6 percent at
1,096.38. BG slumped 13.7 percent to 1,147.5 pence, the biggest
loser on Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 index.
Crude oil gained, with Brent crude rising above $109 a
barrel. Brent for December delivery was up 5 cents at
$109.13. U.S. light sweet crude oil rose 82 cents to
$86.50 a barrel.
U.S. Treasury prices rose on month-end extension trades
after trading resumed after Sandy shut the bond market for a day
and a half.
Bond prices rose. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note
was up 4/32 in price to yield 1.6962 percent.
The euro edged up against the dollar and headed toward its
third straight month of gains. But uncertainty about the heavily
indebted euro-zone economies was set to limit further strength.
The euro rose 0.07 percent against the dollar to