United Continental tumbles, US stocks fall on uncertainty over Syria

United said its first quarter consolidated revenue per seat mile was flat compared with a year ago.
United said its first quarter consolidated revenue per seat mile was flat compared with a year ago.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Shares of United Continental tumbled amid public outrage over the forcible removal of a passenger from a flight.

The stock lost 3.2 per cent as it faced a torrent of criticism on social media after it called security guards to aggressively remove a passenger from an overbooked flight, who ended up with a bloody face.

Separately, United said its first quarter consolidated revenue per seat mile was flat compared with a year ago.

The controversy threatened to hurt United's revenue in China, where the airline began flying in 1986 and has steadily built a loyal customer base. As of last May, United had 96 departures a week to cities in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Wall Street stocks fell early Tuesday as uncertainty over Syria weighed on investor sentiment. With few major economic reports Tuesday, investors fixated on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's upcoming talks with Russia about Syria, and tightening polls in the French presidential election, where the outcome will have implications for the eurozone.

About 25 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen 0.3 per cent to 20,600.99. The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.4 per cent to 2,346.77, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.5 per cent to 5,850.95.

Qualcomm lost 2.5 per cent as it filed a countersuit against Apple claiming the iPhone breached its agreements and encouraged worldwide regulatory attacks on the US computer chip maker.