U.S. Stocks Fall In Afternoon As Energy Shares Tank

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell in afternoon trading on Monday as a drop in crude oil prices to a five-year low hammered energy stocks. Weak Chinese trade figures and news that Japan's recession is deeper than initially thought also weighed on markets.

 

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 143 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,816 as of 2:21 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 20 points, or 1 percent, to 2,054. The Nasdaq composite fell 57 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,722.

 

OIL IMPACT: Energy shares in the S&P 500 dropped 4 percent, by far the biggest loss among the 10 sectors in the index. That followed a drop in the price of crude oil on more evidence of weak growth in Asia. Benchmark U.S. crude sank $3.05, or 4.6 percent, to $62.78 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold on international markets, dropped $3.08, or 4.5 percent, to $65.99 a barrel. Both prices are at their lowest levels since 2009.

         Two big energy companies in the Dow, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, fell sharply. Chevron lost $4.35, or 3.9 percent, to $106.53, and Exxon Mobil fell $2.40, or 2.6 percent, to $91.42.

 

BURGER BLUES: McDonald's, another Dow component, lost 4 percent. That was the biggest in the blue-chip index. Investors sold after learning that a key global sales figure fell 2.2 percent in November, as U.S. sales continued to fall and as the company fought to recover from a food-safety scandal in China. Stock in the world's biggest hamburger chain fell $3.36, or 3.8 percent, to $92.68.

 

MERCK DEAL: Merck & Co. agreed to pay $8.4 billion to buy Cubist Pharmaceuticals, a leader in developing drugs to fight so-called superbugs that have evolved to resist antibiotics. Cubist jumped $26.32, or 35 percent, to $100.68. Merck rose four cents, or 0.1 percent, to $61.53.

 

STUMBLE IN ASIA: In China, the world's No. 2 economy, export growth slumped last month and imports unexpectedly contracted. In Japan, revised figures for the July-September quarter showed the economy shrank 1.9 percent.

         Bill Strazzullo, chief market strategist at Bell Curve Trading, said overseas weakness may be weighing on U.S. markets.

         "When you look at the major drivers of global growth — Japan, China and the eurozone — they're really struggling," he said. "Can the U.S. continue to grow at a moderate pace when the rest of the world is having major problems?"

 

EUROPE DROPS: In Europe, France's CAC 40 and Britain's FTSE 100 were down 1 percent each. Germany's DAX fell 0.7 percent.

 

CURRENCIES and BONDS: The dollar was mixed. The euro inched up 0.5 percent to $1.2336 while the dollar fell 0.5 percent to 120.89 yen. U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.25 percent from 2.31 percent on Friday.

 

METALS: The price of gold rose $4.50 to $1,194.90 an ounce, silver inched up two cents to $16.28 an ounce, and copper fell two cents to $2.89 a pound.

         – by AP Reporters Bernard Condon and Pan Pylas

 

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