US stocks slip in afternoon as energy shares slump
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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks slipped in afternoon trading on Monday as a drop in crude oil prices to a five-year low pushed down 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 66 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,892 as of noon Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,065. The Nasdaq composite fell 31 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,749.
OIL IMPACT: Energy shares slumped as the prospect of weaker growth in Asia helped push down oil prices. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped $2.58, or 4 percent, at $63.27 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold on international markets, dropped $2.90, or 4 percent, to $66.17 a barrel. Both prices are at their lowest levels since 2009.
Chevron fell $3.81, or 3.4 percent, to $107.04.
BURGER BLUES: McDonald’s said 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. The stock fell $3.36, or 3.8 percent, to $92.68.
MERCK DEAL: Merck &Co. said it would 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.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “People are getting a little lackadaisical” after big stock gains this year and in 2013, said John Manley, chief stock strategist at Wells Fargo Funds. “The turkey has been putting us all asleep a little.”
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?”
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1 percent, South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.4 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent.
The Shanghai Composite in mainland China broke through 3,000, soaring 2.8 percent to 3,020.26, on hopes that the weak trade data will spur the government to launch a more aggressive stimulus policy. The Shanghai Composite is up 25 percent in the past month.
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 was flat at $1.2290 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 2.28 percent from 2.31 percent on Friday.