Stocks fall sharply as oil prices sink; Dow drops more than 300 points

Steep losses in financial, technology and other companies sent U.S. stocks sharply lower in midday trading Monday. The decline followed drops in Europe and set the market on course for its second big loss in a row. Crude oil prices slumped again.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 308 points, or 1.9%, to 15,897 as of 12:25 p.m. Eastern time, but that was up from a loss of more than 375 points earlier in the day. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 34 points, or 1.8%, to 1,845. The Nasdaq composite dropped 91 points, or 2.1%, to 4,271.

“Traders are worried that the financial market weakness that we’re experiencing is going to lead to weakness in the real economy,” said Jim McDonald, chief investment strategist at Northern Trust Wealth Management.

TURBULENT MARKET: Several factors have investors in a selling mood this year, including falling crude oil prices and the economic slowdown in China and elsewhere. Traders will be monitoring several big companies’ earnings this week to see what management teams say about their prospects for future earnings.

SECTOR VIEW: All 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index lost ground. Banks and other financial companies fell the most: 3%. Consumer discretionary, technology and materials stocks also fell sharply.

SHARED PAIN: Credit Suisse Group AG slid 5% on news that the bank’s new chief executive has asked for his bonus to be cut after a report of a huge fourth-quarter loss and plans for 4,000 job cuts. The stock shed 75 cents, putting it at $14.20.

ROUGH QUARTER: Cognizant Technology Solutions sank 6.8% after forecasting earnings and revenue that were well below what analysts were expecting. The stock shed $3.98, reaching $54.56.

IN TROUBLE: Harman International Industries was down 4.8% on news that a former executive at the car audio and video systems’ maker has been charged with insider trading by federal prosecutors. The stock fell $3.40 to $67.29.

GOING PRIVATE: Apollo Education Group vaulted 24.5% after agreeing to be acquired by a consortium led by the Vistria Group, an investment firm. The firm aims to take the for-profit college operator private. The stock gained $1.70 to $8.65.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Among Europe’s main indexes, Germany’s DAX fell 3.3%, and France’s CAC 40 dropped 3.2%. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares slid 2.7%. In Asia, many markets wereclosed for the Lunar New Year holidays. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.1%, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was flat.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 62 cents, or 2%, to $30.27 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 61 cents, or 1.8%, to $33.45 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.77% from 1.84% late Friday. The euro was up at $1.1168, and the dollar fell to 115.75 yen.


Article courtesy of the LA Times Business