U.S. Stock Market Drops, Ending Its Worst Week Since 2011 


A wave of late selling pummeled U.S. stocks Friday and pushed the market to its worst week in four years.

The dismal start to 2016 comes as investors worry that China’s huge economy is slowing down. That has helped send the price of oil plunging to its lowest level since 2004, the latest blow to U.S. energy companies.

Industrial and technology companies such as Boeing and Apple that do a lot of business in China have also fallen sharply this week. Mining companies such as Freeport-McMoRan plunged as copper prices have fallen. China is a major importer of copper.

Stocks started the day higher, driven in part by news of an encouraging burst in hiring last month by U.S. employers. China’s stock market also rose 2 percent overnight, recovering somewhat after steep drops earlier in the week triggered trading halts.

The Dow& Jones industrial average dropped 167.65 points, or 1 percent, to 16,346.45. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 21.06 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,922.03. The Nasdaq composite index shed 45.80 points, or 1 percent, to 4,643.63.

The Dow and S&P 500 are each down about 6 percent for the week. The Nasdaq composite fell even more, 7.3 percent. That index is heavily weighted with technology and biotech companies.

The largest losses on Friday went to financial stocks. JPMorgan Chase lost $1.35, or 2.2 percent, to $58.92 and Citigroup fell $1.43, or 3 percent, to $46.13. Health-care stocks slumped, led by drug companies. Energy stocks also skidded as the price of oil, already at decade lows, continued to fall.

European stocks also rose early in the day, but couldn’t hang on. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares declined 0.7 percent while Germany’s DAX lost 1.3 percent. The CAC-40 in France slid 1.6 percent.

The same pattern held in the U.S. In its monthly jobs report, released before the stock market opened, the Labor Department said U.S. employers added 292,000 jobs in December, far more than economists had forecast.

Oil prices lost ground. U.S. crude fell 11 cents to close at $33.16 a barrel in N.Y. and Brent crude declined 20 cents to $33.55 a barrel in London.

Exxon Mobil lost $1.54, or 2 percent, to $74.69 and Tesoro fell $5.41, or 5 percent, to $101.62.

This week retailers started disclosing their end-of-the-year results. Gap and American Eagle both reported disappointing sales. Gap stock dropped $3.83, or 14.3 percent, to $22.91, its lowest in almost four years. American Eagle tumbled $2.64, or 16.6 percent, to $13.24.

Department stores were among the biggest losers on the S&P 500. Their sales have been hurt by the unusually warm winter weather. Kohl’s fell $2.98, or 5.9 percent, to $47.88 and Macy’s lost $1, or 2.7 percent, to $35.89.

The price of gold fell $9.90, or 0.9 percent, to $1,097.90 an ounce. Silver declined 42.6 cents, or 3 percent, to $13.918 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $2.022 a pound.

The euro fell to $1.0903 from $1.0927 and the dollar edged up to 117.67 yen from 117.50 yen late Thursday. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 2.12 percent from 2.15 percent.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 1.8 cents to $1.128 a gallon, heating oil fell 1.4 cents to $1.052 a gallon and natural gas rose 9 cents to $2.472 per 1,000 feet.