Stocks edge higher as oil hits new 30-month high

A light trading day on Wall Street closed with slight gains for major stock indexes.

A light trading day on Wall Street closed with slight gains for major stock indexes.

With oil prices reaching a 30-month high of $108 a barrel, some investors are waiting for Alcoa Inc. to report its first quarter earnings next Monday, the unofficial start of the earnings season, before making any big moves. Traders are hoping to see how rising gas prices and other commodity costs are affecting corporate profits.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.31 points, or 0.2 percent, to 12,400.03. The S&P 500 index gained less than a point to 1,332.87.

Materials companies gained 0.7 percent, the most of any of the 10 company groups that make up the S&P 500 index, as commodity prices increased. Futures contracts for corn, wheat, and sugar each rose more than 2 percent.

The Nasdaq composite lost less than a point to 2,789.19.

In company news, Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, said it would it sell its Capsugel unit to an affiliate of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts for $2.4 billion in cash. Capsugel makes capsules for oral medicines and dietary supplements. Pfizer rose less than 1 percent.

Southwest Airlines Co. fell nearly 2 percent as the company continued to inspect its planes after the fuselage of one jet ripped open Friday, forcing it to make an emergency landing. Southwest grounded 79 planes after the incident and canceled about 700 flights over the weekend. The company said it expected to cancel an additional 70 flights on Monday.

Ford Motor Co. rose 2.6 percent. The company's sales rose 16 percent in March, in part because of the success of its new Explorer crossover vehicle. A Credit Suisse analyst upgraded the automaker, citing an improved balance sheet.

Vivus rose nearly 7 percent after the drug developer said patients taking its diet pill Qnexa over two years saw reductions in blood pressure in addition to significant weight loss.

Rising and falling shares were about even on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 3.3 billion shares.

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