Stocks Hammered by Oil Worries, Uncertainty

Stocks were routed on Wall Street today to close out the week, with all major averages losing ground and the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting its lowest levels for the calendar year during the session.

The Dow tumbled 107.95 points, or 1.09 percent, to close at 9,757.81, just a few points above the yearly low reached in afternoon trading. The Dow lost 1.8 percent on the week.

The Nasdaq, which managed to post gains most of the week despite the Dow’s troubles, was actually the largest loser of the session on a percentage basis, falling 38.48 points, or just under 2 percent, to finish the week at 1,915.17. That tumble came despite a 15 percent jump on the session for Google shares. Still, the tech-heavy index, which saw some other big-name companies turn in strong earnings reports, gained 0.2 percent for the week.

Election, Oil Worries

The S&P 500 fell 10.75 points, or 0.97 percent, to 1,095.74. For the week, that index was off 1.1 percent.

The most-often cited reason for the sell-off was the persistence of high oil prices and the prospect, suggested by some recent economic reports, that high fuel costs might serve as a significant drag on the economy.

Crude oil futures closed at US$55.17 a barrel in New York, a gain of 70 cents for the day and the highest closing price ever recorded. Oil futures were up more than a full dollar for the week.

Presidential Election

The worries about oil and the economy come despite reassurance from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan this week that even dramatically higher oil prices would not cause a repeat of the 1970s oil crisis, which helped spark a series of long recessions.

Other market analysts said the too-close-to-call presidential election was also weighing on investors, some of whom are likely taking cash out of the market in order to avoid any additional volatility before and immediately after the November 2 voting.

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