Nevada News Reporter

Stocks drop for 4th day; S&P down for the year

Stocks drop for 4th day; S&P down for the year

Stocks were off the lows of the day but still closed lower Wednesday as the major indexes notched their fourth consecutive losing session. Jittery investors reacting to tensions in the Middle East and weak economic data sent stocks on a volatile path through much of the day. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.31 points, or 0.2%, to 17,678.23, after being down as much as 140 points earlier. This is the Dow’s worst losing streak since a 5-day loss from Jan 9-15. The Dow remains in negative territory for the calendar year, after closing below the break-even mark Wednesday.stock_market_01

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.90 points, or 0.2%, to 2056.15, falling into negative territory for the year. The S&P finished 2014 at 2058.90. The Nasdaq composite dropped 13.16 points, or 0.3%, to 4863.36. The Dow has been wildly volatile this month, closing up or down more than 100 points in 14 of 18 sessions. Stocks have stalled out after hitting fresh highs earlier this month amid concerns that earnings for the first three months of the year will come in weak and recent selloffs in once-highflying sectors, such as biotech. Investors are also bracing for coming interest rates later this year.

Oi prices surged more than 4% Thursday on growing concerns about Middle East turmoil after Saudi Arabia bombed key military installations in Yemen. U.S. benchmark crude jumped $2.22 to $51.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, rose $2.71 to $59.19 a barrel in London. “Geopolitics (is) back on stage,” Nicholas Bohnsack of Strategas Research Partners told clients in a note this morning. Bespoke Investment Group cited Middle East instability, continued fears over how the Greek debt crisis will play out and fallout from news that the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 appears to have deliberately crashed the plane, for the stock market’s weak price action today. The investment firm also said sometimes the catalyst for a market decline is less important than the simple fact that prices are falling.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index plunged 1.4% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.1%. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.6%. European shares closed lower Thursday, with France’s CAC 40 ending down 0.3%, Germany’s DAX dropping 0.2% and Britain’s FTSE 100 suffering a 1.4% loss.