* U.S. stocks flat to lower as Wall Street reopens after 2-day closure
* Euro holds within recent ranges ahead of U.S. jobs data
* Oil above $109 a barrel as U.S. East Coast refineries return
* Gasoline futures gain on refinery concerns, lumber futures soar
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) - 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 second-largest refinery.
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 year.
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 $1.2964.