US stock indexes edge higher in early trading; oil rises

Energy companies led US stock indexes to modest gains in early trading Monday as the price of crude oil headed higher. The stock is one of the S&P 500's biggest loser. The Nasdaq composite index added 22 points, or 4 percent, to 5,900.

Trading was mostly quiet ahead of the Good Friday holiday, when United States markets will be closed.

Other markets: Oil futures CLM7, +0.57% traded higher, while gold futures GCM7, -0.25% edged lower.

Oil prices swung to a sixth straight win, amid reports Saudi Arabia has said it wants to extend cuts made to crude oil production by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members past June.

Stock futures tilt slightly lower amid investor jitters over the conflict in Syria and rising tensions with North Korea; S&P, Dow and Nasdaq all -0.1%. Rig operator Transocean rose 36 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $12.79. AT&T slipped 3 cents to $40.56.

Swift Transportation jumped 23.6% after agreeing to a merger with fellow trucking company Knight Transportation. Swift shareholders will own a majority of the company, which will be called Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings.

The furniture and appliance rental company said Mark Speese, its founder and chairman, will return as CEO. Mr Speese has been interim CEO for the last three months. Rent-A-Center also issued an optimistic 2018 forecast. The stock climbed 55 cents to $10.15.

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Germany's DAX inched down 0.2 percent, while France's CAC 40 lost 0.5 percent.

In London, FTSE 100 was up nearly 43 points at the mid-day point after closing little changed yesterday.

Japan's benchmark Topix was down 0.4%, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.6%.

Shares of United Continental fell 1.1 percent after a worldwide backlash erupted against the airline over a passenger who was dragged off one of its US flights. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was steady.

Energy stocks led the gainers as the price of crude oil rose for the fifth day in a row. Brent crude, the standard for global oil prices, gained 74 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $55.98 a barrel in London.

In corporate news, Walt Disney +1.1% pre-market after its stock was added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs, but United Continental -2.2% after reporting unit revenue guidance, which followed a video yesterday showing the forced removal of a passenger from an overbooked plane. Natural gas slid 2 cents to $3.24 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In currencies, the Canadian dollar held steady at 75.01 cents USA, a day before the Bank of Canada is set to make its latest interest rate announcement. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0609 compared to yesterday's $1.0596. The dollar sifted lower and bonds rose, sending the 10-year yield down 3 basis points to 2.33%.

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