The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) fell again for the sixth time in seven days today, sliding 0.2% as volatility stayed low. The S&P was also down slightly, while the Nasdaq gained 0.1%, and volume was especially light, as it's been for much of the summer.
Not surprisingly, the major news of the day -- Hurricane Isaac's approach on the Gulf Coast -- affected two of the Dow's biggest winners. Oil prices rose 0.6%, jumping when the storm reached Category 1 status in midday, in response to Gulf of Mexico producers' ceasing of production and the onshore threat as the hurricane makes landfall. At least 1 million barrels per day of refining capacity are expected to pause, though that's a relatively small dent in U.S. consumption of about 19 million barrels per day. Oil prices could continue to rise tomorrow, as forecasters expect the hurricane to come ashore in the early morning.
As a result, Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) gained 0.6% and 0.4%, respectively, but oddly enough, the gains came on a day when President Obama set higher fuel-economy standards, which could hurt those companies in the long run. The new policy requires the average gas efficiency of new cars and trucks in 2025 to be 54.5 miles per gallon, which could further hasten the decline in domestic oil consumption.
Elsewhere, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) was the biggest gainer in the Dow, moving up 0.64%. The chipmaker has just opened up a new research and development facility in San Diego, rival Qualcomm's (Nasdaq: QCOM ) backyard, sending its shares down 0.6%. Intel is focusing on wireless communications at the new facility, putting it in direct competition with Qualcomm in the smartphone-processor market. Rumors had been swirling about a new operation as the software giant has been looking for qualified software engineers in the San Diego area for about a month.
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