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Wall St falls as growth fears resurface after three-day rally

December 17, 2015 7:31 AM

By Marcus E. Howard

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks dropped Thursday on persistent concern over faltering global economic growth, led by declines in energy and materials shares, a day after shares had rallied on the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates.

Oil prices extended recent declines on persistent oversupply worries and as the dollar <.DXY> hit a two-week high. [O/R] [FRX/] Dow components Exxon (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX) were down, by 1.5 and 3.1 percent, respectively.

Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM), which fell 7.7 percent to $17.61, led declines on the materials index <.SPLRCM>, which fell 1.9 percent. The S&P energy index <.SPNY> fell 2.5 percent.

The day's fall followed three sessions of gains. On Wednesday, the market rallied after the Fed raised its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to between 0.25 and 0.50 percent, signaling confidence in the world’s largest economy.

Investors' focus returned on Thursday, however, to concerns about weak global economic conditions as the slide in commodity markets continued unabated.

China's slowdown has been transmitted to the rest of the world through a fall in oil and commodities prices, said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Hugh Johnson Advisors LLC in Albany, N.Y., which he said "is raising serious questions about global demand and the global economy."

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 253.25 points, or 1.43 percent, to 17,495.84, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 31.18 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,041.89 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 68.58 points, or 1.35 percent, to 5,002.55.

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) was down 2.1 percent at $108.98 after concerns deepened on Wall Street about potential weakness in iPhone shipments. It was the biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq.

Though energy and materials led the day's decline, nine of the 10 S&P 500 sectors ended in negative territory. Utilities <.SPLRCU> ended up 0.1 percent.

While the Fed's decision took some uncertainty out of the market, volatility tends to rise after a Fed rate hike, said Karen Hiatt, senior portfolio manager at Allianz Global Investors in San Francisco.

Friday's "quadruple-witching," when options on stocks and indexes and futures on indexes and single stocks all expire on the same day, could exacerbate volatility.

Among other decliners, Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) was down 5.1 percent at $36.93 after its third-quarter profit forecast disappointed.

Pandora Media Inc (NYSE: P) soared 13.54 percent to $15.26 after the media-streaming company said new music royalty rates were "balanced."

FedEx (NYSE: FDX) was up 2.0 percent at $151.84 after it reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,016 to 1,048, for a 1.92-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,884 issues fell and 962 advanced for a 1.96-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 13 new 52-week highs and 24 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 46 new highs and 104 new lows.

About 8.0 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.2 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(Reporting by Marcus E. Howard; Editing by Leslie Adler and James Dalgleish)


Market Check Reuters

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