Stocks skid as oil plunge continues; tech sector also falls

Friday, November 9, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 45

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are falling Friday as technology and internet companies take steep losses.

Energy companies are also lower as crude oil heads for its 10th drop in a row. The price of oil has been falling steadily since early October and is now trading at its lowest price since March, causing steep losses for energy companies in recent weeks.

Stocks have fallen over the last two days but are still on track for strong weekly gains.

Bond prices rose, sending yields lower.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index dropped 29 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,777 as of 12:50 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 220 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,970.

The Nasdaq composite fell 134 points, or 1.8 percent, to 7,396. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 27 points, or 1.8 percent, to 1,550.

Even after falling on Thursday and Friday, the S&P 500 is still up 2 percent this week. It rose 2.4 percent last week but would need to gain another 5.6 percent to reach the all-time high it set on Sept. 20.

THE QUOTE: Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist for Invesco, said investors are reacting to concerns about the health of China's economy, and the U.S.-China trade dispute is partly to blame.

"We got a warning from the People's Bank of China that there were downward pressures on the Chinese economy," she said. "(Investors) are having concerns that these tariff wars are essentially going to kick China when it's down."

At the same time, the Labor Department said wholesale prices in the U.S. jumped, and Hooper said that could be linked to the tariffs as well. Wholesale prices rose by the most in six years in October. The Labor Department's producer price index jumped 0.6 percent as gas, food, and chemical prices increased. Its index has climbed 2.9 percent over the last year.

GAME OVER? Video game maker Activision Blizzard tumbled after its forecast for the critical holiday season fell short of analysts' projections. The stock fell 9.7 percent to $56.74, and Take-Two Interactive lost 5.7 percent to $112.35. Other technology and internet companies also turned lower. Apple fell 2.4 percent to $203.48 and Google's parent company Alphabet shed 2.3 percent to $1,069. Amazon lost 2.3 percent to $1,714.

OIL SKID: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 1.1 percent to $60 a barrel in New York. After peaking at $76.41 a barrel in early October, near a four-year high, U.S. crude has tumbled 21 percent to its lowest price since March. Brent crude, used to price international oils, has fared almost as badly. On Friday it declined 0.9 percent to $70.01 a barrel in London.

Energy companies have done far worse than the rest of the market over the last few months. Over the last 30 days, the S&P 500 index of energy companies has fallen 12.5 percent, while the broader S&P 500 is down 3.6 percent.

Natural gas prices jumped 6.3 percent to $3.77 per 1,000 cubic feet. That helped gas companies stem their losses.

YELP OF PAIN: Online reviews company Yelp nosedived after it posted weak third-quarter revenue and its forecast for the fourth quarter also fell short of Wall Street's estimates. The company said part of the problem is an advertising model that is intended to encourage advertisers to try the site without signing a long-term contract. Yelp said that has made its results more sensitive to short-term problems. Its stock fell 27.8 percent to $31.42.

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE ... A PILE OF CASH: Walt Disney's net earnings were better than expected, as the entertainment giant raked in revenue from movies including "Avengers: Infinity War," ''Incredibles 2" and the "Ant-Man" sequel. The stock gained 2.1 percent to $118.42.

PIPELINE WOES: A federal judge blocked a permit from the Trump administration for the construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, pending an environmental review. The long-delayed pipeline would begin in Alberta and shuttle as much as 830,000 barrels a day of crude through a half dozen states to terminals on the Gulf Coast. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris put on hold the $8 billion project, ruling that the potential impact had not been considered as required by federal law. Environmentalists and Native American groups sued to stop the project, citing property rights and potential oil spills.

The State Department issued a presidential permit for the pipeline in 2008, and after years of legal wrangling, President Barack Obama rejected the permit in 2015.

In Toronto, shares of TransCanada lost 1.7 percent.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.19 percent from 3.23 percent.

CURRENCY: The dollar slipped to 113.76 yen from 113.99 yen. The euro fell to $1.1333 from $1.1356.

OVERSEAS: The French CAC 40 and the FTSE 100 in Britain both fell 0.5 percent. Germany's DAX was little changed.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 retreated 1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 2.4 percent. Seoul's Kospi gave up 0.3 percent.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP