8-28-13 3:39 PM EDT | Email Article

By Sue Chang and Saumya Vaishampayan, MarketWatch


SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Stocks of oil and natural resources companies crowded the top of the S&P 500 on Wednesday as jitters over Syria elevated prices of oil and other commodities.




Express Inc. (EXPR) shares jumped 7.3%. The retailer's second-quarter profit rose to $16.9 million, or 20 cents a share, from $15.8 million, or 18 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Same-store sales gained 6% and Express projects 2013 per-share earnings of $1.52 to $1.60, an increase from earlier expectations.


Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (PXD) shares rose 3.9%, leading a rally in shares of oil firms. Oil prices have been steadily rising, fueled by fears of military action against Syria. U.S. crude oil for October delivery (CLV3) rose 1%, to settle at $110.10 a barrel.


Analysts agree that as an oil producer, Syria is insignificant. However, emerging concerns that a Syria strike could lead to a larger regional conflict is enough to attract speculative bids. The oil market is terrified of Syria because of "inchoate fear" that a brief, limited event could evolve into a major war, said Pavel Molchanov at Raymond James. "The reason we call this fear 'inchoate' is that there is no actual, substantive threat to which the market is responding. It is simply a psychological response to what is obviously a situation of heightened uncertainty," he said in a note.




Joy Global Inc. (JOY) shares fell 4.2%. The mining-equipment and services company posted a fiscal third-quarter profit that dropped 5.3% as sales decreased 4.9%. The company received approval for a share-buyback plan of $1 billion.


Tiffany & Co. (TIF) shares shed 4.3%. Tiffany on Tuesday said its second-quarter results beat Wall Street's expectations, but it still released a cautious outlook for the year.


Top Tickers Trending


$BBRY: BlackBerry Ltd. (RIMM) rose 2.3%, its strongest rally in more than two weeks. The Canadian smartphone maker is looking into spinning off its messaging service to operate as a subsidiary, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. BlackBerry is considering various strategies that could lead to a sale of the company.


$FB: Facebook Inc. (FB) shares climbed 2.7%, resuming their ascent after sharp losses on Tuesday. Facebook gained 20% over the past month in the wake of robust second-quarter earnings.


$NEM: Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) shares fell, reversing from earlier gains. Gold prices had risen on safe-haven demand, spurred on by Syria woes, but settled marginally lower. Gold for December delivery (GCZ3) slipped 0.1% to $1,418.80 an ounce.

-Sue Chang; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com


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08-28-13 1539ET

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Morningstar - 2013/8/28 - UPDATE: Wednesday movers: Syria sparks rally in oil stocks
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