Oil prices put brakes on stocks
U.S. equities ended their longest streak of weekly gains in a year as slumping oil prices dragged down energy stocks and a sell-off in bonds weighed on companies that benefit from investors seeking regular income.
Signs of strong growth in the economy weren’t enough to propel stocks higher this week as investors weighed the impact of a potential interest-rate increase by the Federal Reserve next Wednesday. Futures traders now see a hike as a sure thing.
With the first-quarter earnings season almost over, stocks lost the boost provided by profits that on average beat Wall Street expectations.
The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index slipped 0.4 percent to 2,372.60 in its first weekly decline since the period ended Jan. 20. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.5 percent to 20,902.98.
“This market is now facing its biggest challenge,” Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at Jones-Trading Institutional Services, said in a note to clients. “The most substantial fly in the ointment is the breakdown in crude.”
Oil posted its worst weekly decline since November as a Bloomberg Commodity Index dropped 3.4 percent for its fourth straight weekly loss.
The U.S. Treasury will sell three-month bills and six-month bills Monday. They yielded 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent in when-issued trading. It will also sell four-week bills Tuesday.
Editor’s note: Going forward, our weekly composite stock listing highlights companies based in Washington or with a strong presence here. The rest of the table shows firms as ranked by market capitalization. And we’ve added year-to-date data because readers told us it would be useful.