July 22nd, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street slips in early trading and crude oil prices rise

By Elaine Kurtenbach And Matt Ott, The Associated Press on October 18, 2023.

NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street is dipping in early trading following a mixed set of profit reports from big U.S. companies. Worries about war in the Middle East are also dragging on the market. The S&P 500 was 0.5% lower in the early going Wednesday. The Dow fell 69 points, and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.7%. Crude oil prices jumped sharply overnight following a deadly explosion at a hospital in the Gaza Strip, which sparked protests across the Middle East. But oil prices pared their gains as the morning progressed. Gold, meanwhile, kept rising as investors have looked for safer investments.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Wall Street headed for losses before the open and oil prices surged Wednesday after an air strike on a hospital in Gaza triggered protests in many parts of the Middle East.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% and futures for the S&P 500 fell 0.4% before the bell.

Markets have been shaken by worries that conflict in the region could disrupt supplies if it draws in Iran or other major oil-producing countries.

Within hours after a blast was said to have killed hundreds at a Gaza hospital, protesters hurled stones at Palestinian security forces in the occupied West Bank and at riot police in neighboring Jordan, venting fury at their leaders for failing to stop the carnage. A planned meeting between Arab leaders and President Joe Biden was called off. He is visiting Israel.

The Hamas militant group blamed the blast on an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants.

Oil prices jumped after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called on Muslim nations to expel their Israeli ambassadors and launch an oil embargo on Israel after the explosion at the hospital. It was the first time an oil embargo has been discussed as Israel wages war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip after its unprecedented Oct. 7 attack.

U.S. benchmark crude oil was up $1.60 at $87.04 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, climbed $1.56 to $91.46 per barrel.

Procter & Gamble rose about 2% after the world’s largest consumer products maker beat Wall Street’s sales and profit forecasts.

Video streamer Netflix and electric car maker Tesla report earnings after the bell Wednesday.

In Europe at midday, Germany’s DAX slid 0.5%, while the CAC 40 in Paris fell 0.4%.

Britain’s FTSE declined 0.5% as the government reported that inflation held steady at 6.7% in September as easing food and drink price rises were offset by higher fuel costs.

Asian markets also fell or were little changed.

China reported Wednesday that its economy grew at a 4.9% annual pace in July-September, down from 6.3% in the previous quarter. The National Bureau of Statistics said the world’s second-largest economy slowed in the summer as global demand for exports faltered and the ailing property sector sank deeper into crisis.

Weak global demand and the property industry remain the biggest shadows overhanging the economy in the near term, economists said.

“The wider data on the property sector remained weak, although green shoots are appearing,” Capital Economics said in a report. “New housing starts continued to drop and are now at their lowest levels since 2005,” it said.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.2% to 17,732.52 and the Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.8% to 3,058.71.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo closed flat, gaining less than 2 points to 32,042.25. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.1% to 2,462.60. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.3% to 7,077.60.

Bangkok’s SET rose 0.3% and India’s Sensex skidded 0.8%.

Treasury yields in the bond market rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 4.84% early Wednesday.

A sharp jump since the summer in the 10-year yield has weighed on the stock market, as traders increasingly accept the Fed’s forecasts that it will likely keep rates high for a long time. The central bank has already pulled its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001 and is debating whether to increase it one more time.

In currency trading, the dollar slipped to 149.64 Japanese yen from 149.82 yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.0576.

Gold, often bought as a safe haven in uncertain times, gained $25.20, or 1.3%, to $1,960.90 per ounce.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 edged down less than 1 point. The Dow added less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.3%.

A report on Tuesday showed shoppers spent more at U.S. retailers last month than economists expected. But a too-hot economy could also give inflation more fuel and push the Fed to keep interest rates high to suffocate it. Such a move would hurt prices for stocks and other investments.

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