Stocks Opened Mixed, After Recent Selloff

Stocks opened narrowly mixed on Tuesday, struggling to reverse the recent string of declines and awaiting the start of earnings season. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 24.60 points to 12,904.99. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 1.49 point to 1,380.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 2.96 points to 3,050.04.

The White House on Tuesday made a renewed push for the so-called Buffett Rule that would lift tax rates on high-earning individuals as it released a report defending the proposal.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke called for new steps to curb “shadow banking” operating beyond standard oversight while saying the economy has far to go before fully recovering from the credit crisis.

China unexpectedly reported a trade surplus in March, with capital inflows lessening the odds that Premier Wen Jiabao will further loosen monetary policy to support growth. The excess was $5.35 billion, the customs bureau said in a statement on its website today. Exports rose 8.9 percent from a year earlier, while inbound shipments increased 5.3 percent.

Japan’s Sony Corp flagged a record $6.4 billion annual net loss, double an earlier forecast and a fourth straight year of red ink. In a fourth revision to its annual estimates, Sony forecast a 520 billion yen net loss for the year to end-March 2012. In February it had forecast an annual net loss of 220 billion yen. The annual results are due on May 21.

Oil prices fell below $102 a barrel Tuesday as weak U.S. jobs figures and expectations of growing crude oil stockpiles raised the prospect that U.S. demand will remain tepid. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for May delivery was down 68 cents to $101.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold prices rose on Tuesday as expectations that a sluggish employment market in the United States could spark a fresh round of U.S. quantitative easing drove prices higher, despite the influence of a firming dollar. Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,643.80 an ounce at 0915 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery were up $1.20 an ounce at $1,645.10.

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