US stocks end volatile week sharply lower; Dow down 2.1 per cent

Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Dec 11, 2015.
Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Dec 11, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Dow dropped more than 2 per cent Friday as US stocks finished a volatile week sharply lower due in part to worries about falling oil prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 367.29 points (2.10 per cent) to 17,128.55.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 36.34 (1.78 per cent) to 2,005.55, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 79.47 (1.59 per cent) at 4,923.08.

Friday’s rout pushed all three indices into the red for the week.

Oil prices fell to fresh multi-year lows as a continued supply glut weighs on the commodity and petroleum-linked stocks.

Analysts said Wednesday’s monumental decision to lift US interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade has also spurred greater volatility, resulting in big rallies on Tuesday and Wednesday that were reversed the subsequent two days.

“Overall, the market is still trying to digest of two things,” said David Levy, portfolio manager at Kenjol Capital Management.

“We still have in mind the price of oil as well as the long-term ramifications of what the Federal Reserve is trying to do.”

Analysts said technical factors exacerbated Friday’s losses. Friday was the so-called “quadruple witching” deadline when many futures and options contracts expire.

Big companies including Apple, Boeing, Procter & Gamble and Microsoft all lost between 2.7 per cent and 4.1 per cent.

Disney fell 3.8 per cent despite setting a record $57 million in opening-night ticket sales for its blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

BTIG downgraded the stock, saying the strong performance of the movie will not be enough to offset weakness in Disney’s ESPN division.

Transocean slumped 5.7 per cent after announcing that Statoil will terminate an ultra-deepwater drillship contract about five months early.

Some other oil-services companies also suffered deep declines. Nabors Industries lost 6.3 per cent and Weatherford International 8.5 per cent.

BlackBerry jumped 10.4 per cent after reporting a net loss of  US$89 million in the third quarter, besting analyst forecasts for a much deeper loss. 24/7 Wall Street said it was encouraged by a big rise in software and services revenue.

CarMax tumbled 6.4 per cent as net income for the third quarter slipped 1.4 per cent behind a 0.8 per cent drop in comparable store unit sales due to lower traffic at its used-car lots. Results were also affected by higher advertising expenses.