Wall Street sells off as Exxon Mobil, oil weigh | Reuters - Firstpost
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Wall Street sells off as Exxon Mobil, oil weigh | Reuters


U.S. stocks dropped on Tuesday after another steep drop in oil prices and a disappointing spending forecast from Exxon Mobil.

Shares of Exxon (XOM.N) fell 2.2 percent to $74.59 after the oil major reported its smallest quarterly profit in more than a decade, forecast a 25-percent drop in capital spending from 2015 levels and suspended share repurchases.

With Exxon, "not only did the earnings disappoint people, but the fact that they slashed capex so much and they (suspended) their share repurchase programme. It's a good indication that one more large oil company is not seeing an improvement in the environment," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Earlier Tuesday, BP Plc (BP.N) reported an annual loss of $6.5 billion, its largest ever.

The S&P energy index .SPNY slid 3.3 percent, the biggest drag on the S&P 500. Brent LCOc1 and U.S. crude CLc1 fell as hopes faded for a deal between OPEC and Russia to cut output.

Data so far this earnings period shows the capital spending slump that originated in the hard-hit energy sector was spreading more widely across other U.S. industries.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed down 295.64 points, or 1.8 percent, to 16,153.54, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 36.35 points, or 1.87 percent, to 1,903.03 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 103.42 points, or 2.24 percent, to 4,516.95.

The Dow Jones transportation average .DJT ended 2.9-percent lower following news of the first U.S. transmission of the Zika virus.

The S&P 500 is down 6.9 percent since the start of the year. Investors have been concerned about a China-led global economic slowdown, tepid U.S. economic data, the pace of rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and weak earnings. Fourth-quarter S&P 500 earnings are expected to have fallen 4.4 percent from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Bucking the day's trend, Alphabet (GOOGL.O) was up 1.3 percent at $780.91. Quarterly profit beat estimates late Monday and the Internet giant surpassed Apple (AAPL.O) as the most valuable U.S. company.

Investors are also keeping an eye on the U.S. election cycle, with Senator Ted Cruz winning the Republican caucus in Iowa on Monday and Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly edging out Senator Bernie Sanders.

Iowa results created greater uncertainty because there were no clear winners, said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"The bottom line for people who are investing is they prefer a little more certainty than they are seeing right now in either the election or in the energy markets," he said.

About 8.5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 9.2 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

NYSE declining issues outnumbered advancers 2,478 to 603, for a 4.11-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 2,237 issues fell and 577 advanced for a 3.88-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and 28 lows; the Nasdaq recorded 22 new highs and 143 lows.

(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Don Sebastian and Nick Zieminski)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Feb 3, 2016 03:30 IST

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