Oil's declines have underscored concerns about global demand, and
with the S&P 500 having hit a record high only last week, investors
were loath to fight the downward pressure on stocks, which
accelerated in the final minutes of trading. The S&P dropped 3.5
percent on the week after seven straight weeks of gains.
The S&P energy sector <.SPNY> was down 2.2 percent on the day. It is
down 16.5 percent this year, the worst performing of 10 S&P sectors.
Dow components Exxon Mobil <XOM.N> and Chevron Corp <CVX.N> both hit
52-week lows as U.S. crude oil fell below $58 a barrel, hitting
five-year lows, on expectations of reduced worldwide energy demand.
"Certainly as midday came the market did not stabilize at all, so
sellers knew that," said Kenny Polcari, director of the NYSE floor
division at O’Neil Securities in New York. "Energy is at the top of
the list in terms of the names getting crushed."
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 315.51 points, or 1.79
percent, to 17,280.83, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 33 points, or 1.62
percent, to 2,002.33 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 54.57
points, or 1.16 percent, to 4,653.60.
Disappointing data that suggested China's economy softened in
November pushed the materials sector <.SPLRCM> down 2.9 percent,
making it the worst-performing S&P sector on the day.
The drop in oil and weakness in China overshadowed strong U.S.
consumer sentiment, which hit an eight-year high.
Some investors hope declining gas prices will boost consumer
spending enough to offset the energy sector's woes.
However, there is concern that rising volatility in the energy
market will migrate to equities as investors worry about slack
demand worldwide. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, rose 5 percent
to 21.08 on Friday as investors paid up to hedge against losses.
[to top of second column]
Polcari, however, noted that the S&P 500's declines came to within a
whisper of the 50-day moving average at 2,000, where he expects to
see buyers emerge next week.
Adobe Systems <ADBE.O> rose 9 percent to $76.02, making it the
biggest gainer on the S&P 500 after it announced plans to buy stock
photography company Fotolia, along with a stronger quarterly report.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,468 to
647, for a 3.81-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,949
issues fell and 790 advanced for a 2.47-to-1 ratio favoring
The broad S&P 500 index posted 15 new 52-week highs and 35 new lows;
the Nasdaq Composite recorded 52 new highs and 160 new lows.
About 7.6 billion shares were traded on U.S. exchanges on Friday,
compared to the 6.9 billion daily average so far this month,
according to BATS Global Markets data.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum, Meredith Mazzilli and James Dalgleish)
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