Stocks start out higher, but end the day with little gain

Stocks ended flat Monday after expectations that a tax-cut package would pass the Senate kept them higher for much of the day.

The tax-cut compromise won overwhelming support in its first Senate vote Monday. Economists expect the nearly $900 billion tax package to boost economic growth and increase the size of the budget deficit.

Traders also were encouraged by a handful of deals announced Monday. General Electric Co. is paying $1.3 billion to buy British oilfield company Wellstream Holdings PLC, and Dell Inc. is spending $960 million for network storage company Compellent Technologies Inc

The S&P 500 index eked out a new 2010 high for the fourth time in four days. The index rose 0.06 points to 1,240.46. Other indexes fell in late afternoon. The Dow Jones industrial average closed with a gain of 18.24, or 0.16 percent, to 11,428.56, after being up as many as 70 points earlier.

 

Oil prices near $90 a barrel; Maine gas prices rise again

Oil resumed its march to $90 a barrel Monday, promising to bring retail gasoline prices along for the ride.

Benchmark crude rose 82 cents to settle at $88.61 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. At the pump, the average price for a gallon of regular around the country was $2.98, according to the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration. That’s more than 2 cents higher than a week ago and 38 cents above a year ago.

The price-monitoring website MaineGasPrices.com said average retail gasoline prices in Maine have risen 1.2 cents per gallon in the past week to an average of $3.11. That’s 41.8 cents per gallon higher than one year ago.