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Published: Friday, 4/12/2013

Stocks end a four-day advance as energy slides

Indexes fall on Wall Street after a four-day rise; energy stocks sink along with crude oil

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) — Energy companies led the stock market lower Friday as the price of oil sank 3 percent. Gold and other precious metals fell hard, sinking mining stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 35 points at 14,830 shortly after noon, a loss of 0.2 percent. The Dow had surged more than 2 percent, a climb of 300 points, over the previous four days.

The price of crude oil dropped $2.50 to $91 a barrel in New York trading. The International Energy Agency lowered its forecast for global oil demand this year, echoing predictions made earlier this week by OPEC and the U.S. Energy Department.

Gold plunged $58 to $1,507 an ounce, its biggest drop in more than a year and the lowest level since July 2011. Gold has been falling this year as investors anticipate a stronger U.S. economy.

One trigger for the latest plunge was a government report that U.S. wholesale prices fell the most in 10 months in March. Traders also worry that Cyprus’ plans to sell part of its gold reserves will increase supplies on global markets.

The sharp drop in gold futures tugged down mining companies. Barrick Gold plunged 6 percent to $23.34, Newmont Mining fell 5 percent to $36.89 and Freeport-McMoRan fell 2 percent to $32.04.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was down eight points, or 0.5 percent, at 1,585. The Nasdaq composite dropped 16 points, also 0.5 percent, to 3,284.

Major indexes remain on track to end the week with strong gains. For the week, the Dow and the S&P 500 are still up 2 percent.

A handful of reports out Friday also heightened concerns about the economy. Sales at U.S. retailers fell in March and companies restocked their shelves at a much slower pace in February than in the month before. That’s usually a sign companies expect weaker spending from consumers and businesses. A measure of consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan also fell sharply.

The stock market has held up well despite a string of recent reports that point to a weakening economy. That resilience has “left a lot of investors scratching their heads,” said Lawrence Creatura, a fund manager at Federated Investors.

This earnings season will likely determine which direction the market takes, Creatura said. Next week, when Bank of America, Google and other big names turn in their quarterly results, could make the difference.

Wells Fargo fell 2 percent to $36.92. Quarterly profits surged for the country’s biggest mortgage lender, but revenue slumped below Wall Street’s forecasts.

The weaker economic reports pushed traders into the safety of Treasurys. In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 1.73 percent from 1.79 percent late Thursday.

Among other companies making moves Friday:

— M&T Bank lost 4 percent to $100.93. The bank said it had to delay its merger with Hudson City Bancorp after the Federal Reserve flagged the bank’s compliance with money-laundering rules.

— Evertec climbed 6 percent in its first day as a publicly traded company. The payment processer raised more than $500 million in its initial public offering, with its shares priced at $20. Evertec’s stock gained $1.12 to $21.12.



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