US stocks fall

New York, Dec 19 (IANS) The US stocks tumbled for the second straight session on Friday, as falling oil prices weighed on Wall Street sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 367.39 points, or 2.10 percent, to 17,128.45, Xinhua reported.

The S&P 500 slumped 36.37 points, or 1.78 percent, to 2,005.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 79.47 points, or 1.59 percent, to 4,923.08.

Oil prices, which were trading around their lowest level in nearly seven years recent days, continued to fall on Friday as data signalled that US crude output is not contracting.

The West Texas Intermediate for January delivery moved down 22 cents to settle at $34.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude for February delivery decreased 18 cents to close at $36.88 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

“For the time being, the most decisive move has been in commodities, where a tightening Fed is pretty clearly bad news no matter what follows from it,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial.

Adding more pessimism to the market, overseas stock markets witnessed broadly-based decline on Friday.

In Asia, Japan’s equities ended sharply lower as volatile sentiment dominated the market after the Bank of Japan decided on new steps to support its monetary easing policy, with the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average dropping 1.90 percent.

European shares also decreased broadly as investors remained cautious on weak commodity prices, with Britain’s benchmark FTSE 100 Index going down 0.82 percent.

Meanwhile, investors were still sifting through the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade.

Analysts believed the stock markets would witness some volatility in recent days as Wall Street tried to digest the rate hike decision.

For the week, the blue-chip Dow fell 0.8 percent, and the broader S&P 500 dipped 0.3 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 0.2 percent.

The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose 9.29 percent to end at 20.70 on Friday.

In other markets, the US dollar declined against other major currencies Friday after a sharp increase in the previous session on the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates.

In late New York trading, the euro climbed to $1.0862 from $1.0811 in the previous session, while the US dollar bought 121.28 Japanese yen, lower than 122.82 yen of the previous session.

Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose on Friday as the US dollar fell and short traders took profits.

The most active gold contract for February delivery added $15.4, or 1.47 percent, to settle at $1,065.00 per ounce.

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