Dow Jones industrials drop 500 as stock market losses deepen
NEW YORK – The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 500 points Monday, bringing it back just below 25,000 points, a level it first crossed a month ago. The heavy losses deepened a slump that began on Friday as investors worried that creeping signs of higher inflation and interest rates could derail the market’s record-setting rally.
Banks are taking some of the biggest losses. Wells Fargo is plunging after the Federal Reserve hit the bank with new sanctions over a scandal that involved opening millions of phony consumer accounts. Bond yields slipped after moving sharply higher Friday.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 2 points, or 1.9 percent, to 2,709 as of 2:36 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 552 points, or 2.2 percent, to 24,972. The Nasdaq composite fell 101 points, or 1.4 percent, to 7,140. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was down 25 points, or 1 percent, to 1,522.
The S&P 500 is now down 5 percent from its latest record high, set January 26. Investors are worried about evidence of rising inflation in the U.S. Increased inflation might push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more quickly, which could slow down economic growth by making it make it more expensive for people and businesses to borrow money. And bond yields haven’t been this high in years. That’s making bonds more appealing to investors compared with stocks.
WELLS FARGO PLUNGES: Wells Fargo dropped $5.32, or 8.3 percent, to $58.75. Late Friday the Fed said it will freeze Wells Fargo’s assets at the level where they stood at the end of last year until it can demonstrate improved internal controls. The San Francisco bank also agreed to remove four directors from its board.
WAKING UP: The stock market has been unusually calm for more than a year. The combination of economic growth in the U.S. and other major economies, low interest rates, and support from central banks meant stocks could keep rising steadily without a lot of bumps along the way. Experts have been warning that that wouldn’t last forever.
The decline over the last few days isn’t large by historic standards, but stocks haven’t suffered a 5 percent drop since the two days after Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. They recovered those losses within days. The market hasn’t gone through a 10 percent drop since early 2016, when oil prices were plunging as investors worried about a drop in global growth, which could have sharply reduced demand. U.S. crude hit a low of about $26 a barrel in February of that year.
SWEETENED OFFER: Chipmaker Broadcom raised its offer for competitor Qualcomm to $121 billion in cash and stock, or $82 per share, and called the bid its best and final offer. It had offered $103 billion for Qualcomm, and that company says it will review the bid. Broadcom rose $2.04 to $237.52.
However Qualcomm dipped $2.61, or 4 percent, to $63.46 after analysts said Apple may end a deal with Qualcomm and have Intel make chips for futures iPhone models instead. Intel gained 53 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $46.68.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.30, or 2 percent, to $64.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, lost 97 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $67.61 a barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline lost 3 cents to $1.85 a gallon. Heating oil shed 3 cents to $2.02 a gallon. Natural gas sank 10 cents to $2.75 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Exxon Mobil lost $3.79, or 4.5 percent, to $80.74 and Chevron gave up $3.20, or 2.7 percent, to $115.38. Both companies reported disappointing fourth-quarter results on Friday and are coming off their biggest losses in years.
MARKET LEADERS LOSING: Almost three-fourths of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange traded lower. Some of the largest losses went to companies that have done exceptionally well over the last year. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, lost $29.99, or 2.7 percent, to $1,089.21. Chipmaker Nvidia fell $8.69, or 3.7 percent, to $224.83. 3M skidded $6.23, or 2.5 percent, to $238.94.
BONDS: Bond prices receded after moving sharply higher on Friday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 2.82 percent from 2.84 percent.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.88 yen from 110.28 yen. The euro slipped to $1.2415 from $1.2451.
METALS: Gold declined 80 cents to $1,336.50 an ounce. Silver dipped 4cents to $16.67 an ounce. Copper rose 3 cents to $3.22 a pound.
BITCOIN WOES: Bitcoin prices and futures continued to sink. According to Coindesk, the price of bitcoin fell 15 percent to $6,957. It reached a high of almost $20,000 in December, and traded under $1,000 in early 2017. Many financial pros warn that bitcoin is in a speculative bubble that could burst anytime. On the CME, bitcoin futures plunged 19 percent to $6,975. They tumbled 18 percent to $6,950 on the Cboe.
GERMAN COALITION TALKS: Stocks in Europe also fell. Leading political parties in Germany, which is the largest economy in Europe, have struggled to form a government. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats are still in talks about extending their alliance of the past four years.
Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 1.5 percent while France’s CAC 40 slid 1.5 percent. The DAX in Germany shed 0.8 percent.
ASIA: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 tumbled 2.6 percent and the South Korean Kospi shed 1.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index sank 1.1 percent.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jayt