Oil prices put brakes on stocks

The Washington Post Sunday - - MARKETS -

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.

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