Stocks sank today as oil's surge above $108 a barrel and more worrisome signs for the financial sector led investors to extend last week's...
NEW YORK — Stocks sank today as oil’s surge above $108 a barrel and more worrisome signs for the financial sector led investors to extend last week’s losses.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 153.54 to 11,740.15, near the lows of the session.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 18 cents to close at $28.05 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, fell $2.22 to $74.38.
Broader stock indicators also retreated. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 20.00 to 1,273.37, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 43.15 to 2,169.34.
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Wall Street had no bleak economic data to contend with today, but instead faced a steady drumbeat of negative news on companies exposed to mortgages.
Blackstone Group posted a fiscal first-quarter loss as the private equity firm booked a write-down related to the tough credit climate and a big stake in a bond insurer. Meanwhile, mortgage lenders dropped after Thornburg Mortgage was downgraded by a Jefferies analyst and Countrywide Financial was reported to be under investigation by the government for securities fraud.
Then, Bear Stearns dropped as Moody’s Investors Service downgraded a batch of Bear securities backed by Alt-A mortgages, which are home loans given to people lacking proof of income or with minor credit problems.
The slew of downbeat financial news overshadowed a strong February sales report from McDonald’s, and led restless investors to proceed cautiously ahead of big economic reports later in the week: Thursday’s report on retail sales and Friday’s report on consumer prices. Those two readings will give Wall Street a better idea of how much the average American is struggling with falling home values and rising costs, and how aggressively the Federal Reserve will need to act when it meets next week.