Global Stock Markets Slide as Oil Falls Below $30 a Barrel

(AP) —
Michael Pistillo Jr. follows stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Michael Pistillo Jr. follows stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

U.S. stocks slumped broadly in early trading Friday as the price of crude oil dropped below $30 a barrel, pulling energy-company shares sharply lower. Discouraging data on retail sales and manufacturing also weighed on the market. Financial stocks were among the biggest decliners. The slide came a day after the stock market clocked its best day in over a month.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 358 points, or 2.2 percent, to 16,024 as of 10:07 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 43 points, or 2.3 percent, to 1,878. The Nasdaq composite dropped 117 points, or 2.5 percent, to 4,497. The Dow and S&P 500 have now fallen about 8 percent this year, while the Nasdaq is off 10 percent.

VOLATILE MARKET: Stocks were coming off a broad rally on Thursday that gave the S&P 500 index its biggest gain since early December. That gain was a reversal from a day earlier, when the market turned in its worst day since September. Behind the market swings are growing investor jitters about the slowdown in China’s economy, plunging oil prices and the implications those trends may have for U.S. corporations.

OIL PRICES: The price of crude oil fell to the lowest level since 2003. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.72, or 5.5 percent, to $29.48 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell $1.36, or 4.4 percent, to $29.52 a barrel in London. The steep slump in crude from over $100 a barrel in the summer of 2014 has eviscerated energy-company profits and made it much harder for them to pay off their debts.

TIED TO OIL: Several oil, gas and mining companies were down sharply along with oil prices. Marathon Oil slid 94 cents, or 10.4 percent, to $8.13. Chesapeake Energy fell 32 cents, or 8.7 percent, to $3.39. Consol Energy lost 44 cents, or $7.4 percent, to $5.19.

DISCOURAGING DATA: The Federal Reserve said U.S. industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, dropped in December for the third month in a row. A separate report from the Commerce Department indicated U.S. retail sales dipped last month.

EUROPE: Stocks opened higher in Europe but quickly fell. Germany’s DAX lost 3.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 dropped 2.9 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 2.4 percent.

ASIA’S DAY: In China, the Shanghai Composite Index finished down 3.6 percent, sliding to its lowest close since Dec. 8, 2014. China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that banks’ new loans during the last month fell over a year earlier, in a sign that momentum for credit was slowing. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.5 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi slid 1.1 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.02 percent from 2.09 percent late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.0952 from $1.0862, while the dollar fell to 117.07 yen from 118.15 yen.

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