MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Market Fights For Gains In Hurricane Harvey's Wake

By Carla Mozee and Anora Mahmudova, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Energy shares rise modestly amid storm damage; Biotech sector surges

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday gave up opening gains and was trading marginally lower, but the broader market was climbing tepidly, as investors gauged the effect of Hurricane Harvey that slammed into Texas over the weekend, flooding cities and forcing energy facilities to close.

The S&P 500 index rose 2 points, or 0.1%, at 2,445, with four of the main sectors trading higher, led by a 0.7% climb in health-care stocks, but weighed by a 0.6% slide in the energy sector.

The Nasdaq Composite Index added 25 points, or 0.4%, at 6,290, driven by gains in technology and biotech names.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off by 11 points, or less than 0.1%, at 21,800. Insurance company Travelers Cos. Inc. (TRV) led losses, down nearly 3%. Home Depot Inc. (HD) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) were leading the gains, up 0.8%

"Health care shares were up because of merger deals, but insurance companies are suffering because it's clear that the flooding damage in Texas will mean a lot of claims for payouts. It is unclear if a jump in gasoline prices is long-lasing because we don't know how soon refineries will be up and running," Mark Kepner, managing director of sales and trading at Themis Trading.

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Shares of insurance companies were worst hit (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ally-financial-shares-slip-on-concerns-about-its-car-loan-exposure-in-hurricane-harvey-battered-texas-2017-08-28)on Monday, with the iShares U.S. Insurance exchange-traded fund (IAK) falling 1%.

Kepner also said low volumes tend to exaggerate price swings on Wall Street.

Read: Why oil prices are sinking as gasoline soars after Harvey (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-oil-prices-are-sinking-as-gasoline-soars-after-harvey-2017-08-28)

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. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/houston-forecast-unprecedented-50-inches-of-rain-2017-08-27)

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 4% on Monday. On the New York Mercantile Exchange September futures recently traded 5% higher at $1.750 a gallon, and the more active October contract climbed nearly 4%.

However, oil prices continued to decline. West Texas Intermediate oil futures fell about 2% to $46.88 a barrel. The most popular ETF tracking oil prices, United States Oil Fund,(USO), slumped 2.3%.

Shares of energy companies (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/energy-stocks-try-to-shake-off-hurricane-harvey-fallout-with-dow-set-to-rise-modestly-2017-08-28) were also falling, as some major companies closed down refineries in Texas due to flooding. The SPDR Energy Select Sector exchange-traded fund (XLE) fell 0.5%.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) 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 (RDSB.LN) said it stopped making fuel at its Deer Park, Texas, plant. Exxon shares fell 0.5%, while Chevron Corp. (CVX) shares were also down 0.5%.

"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 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/insurance-industry-to-easily-absorb-losses-from-harvey-experts-say-2017-08-27)

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 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-trade-deficit-widens-in-july-advance-report-shows-2017-08-28). Both exports and imports declined, but exports dropped at a faster pace in the month. The gap was wider than expected.

Corporates:Gilead Sciences Inc. shares (GILD) rose 2% following a Wall Street Journal report that the company will buy Kite Pharma Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gilead-to-buy-kite-pharma-for-about-11-bln-wsj-2017-08-28).(KITE) for about $11 billion. Kite shares rose 16% in low premarket volume.

Biotechnology stocks fared well on Monday, with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) trading 1.7% higher.

Shares of Expedia Inc.(EXPE) fell 4.6% after news that Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi is leaving the company to become Uber's CEO (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uber-said-to-pick-expedias-dara-khosrowshahi-as-new-ceo-2017-08-27).

Other markets: Gold prices were up 0.4% at $1303 an ounce.

The ICE Dollar Index was down 0.4% to 92.41 as the greenback lost ground against the yen, the euro and pound.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up 0.1% while the Japan's Nikkei Average ended fractionally lower. European equities (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-under-pressure-as-euro-hits-highest-since-january-2015-2017-08-28) fell as the euro hit its highest against the dollar in more than two years.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 28, 2017 11:02 ET (15:02 GMT)