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Markets

Dow drops sharply, down over 400 points

Technology companies lead the slide

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., Dec.7.   © Reuters

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks fell sharply Friday, erasing an early gain, as the market closed in on its third weekly decline in four weeks.

The latest wave of selling sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 400 points on top of hefty losses for the blue chip average this week.

Losses in technology and health care stocks accounted for much of the market's slide. Retailers and other consumer-focused companies, banks and industrial stocks also took heavy losses. Energy stocks climbed as crude oil prices rose on news that OPEC members agreed to cut production next year.

The government said job growth in November fell short of economists' expectations.

The S&P 500 index fell 47 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,648 as of 12:52 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow dropped 430 points, or 1.7 percent, to 24,517. The Nasdaq composite slid 163 points, or 2.3 percent, to 7,024. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks gave up 18 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,458.

The S&P 500 and Dow are now in the red for the year. The Nasdaq was holding on to a modest gain.

The benchmark S&P 500 was on track to cap a turbulent week of trading with its third weekly drop in four weeks. That would represent a big swing from just last week, when the index had its best weekly gain in nearly seven years. Volatility has gripped the market since early October, reflecting investors' worries that the Federal Reserve might overshoot with its campaign of rate increases and put the brakes on the U.S. economy. Traders also fear that a prolonged trade dispute between the U.S. and China could slow the global economy and crimp corporate profits. Uncertainty over both those issues helped drive the market's sell-off this week.

"The Fed has taken the punch bowl away in getting back to rates where they are today," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist for Voya Investment Management. "We're also going to get back to more normal volatility."

 Oil prices rose after OPEC countries agreed to reduce global oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day for six months, beginning in January. The move would include a reduction of 800,000 barrels per day from OPEC countries and 400,000 barrels per day from Russia and other non-OPEC nations. The news, which had been widely anticipated, pushed crude oil prices higher.

U.S. benchmark crude jumped 4.3 percent to $53.69 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 4.7 percent to $62.87 a barrel in London.

The pickup in oil prices sent energy stocks higher. Anadarko Petroleum gained 2.1 percent to $52.66.

 

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