US stocks tumble amid economic worries

December 19th, 2008 - 7:08 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew York, Dec 18 (Xinhua) Wall Street ended lower Thursday as investors weighed a series of mixed economic news.Energy, material sectors lost most as the oil prices plunged to a four-and-half-year low of $36 a barrel. Chevron Corp. fell $3.94 to $72.88, and Exxon Mobil Corp. dropped $4.13 to $76.93.

Standard & Poor’s ratings service lowered its outlook for General Electric Co. and its Capital finance unit to negative from stable. GE still has an AAA rating, but is warned by the ratings agency that it may lose it if conditions get worse in the GE Capital arm. GE shares slid 8.2 percent.

In the earlier trading, investors’ sentiment was lifted as President-elect Barack Obama’s aides are assembling a stimulus package including new jobs and middle-class tax relief. The plan could cost $850 billion.

The US Labor Department reported Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 554,000 for the week ending Dec 13, from an upwardly revised figure of 575,000 the previous week. The initial jobless claims dropped more than expected, but the claims remain near last week’s 26-year high, and the four-week moving average for claims is up.

The Dow Jones shed 219.35 to 8,604.99. Broader indexes were also lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 19.14 to 885.28; and the Nasdaq dropped 26.94 to 1,552.37.

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