Oil slide, China worries send Wall Street tumbling

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street’s three major stock indexes lost ground on Friday, after a week of recovery from the October sell-off, as oil prices fell further and more evidence of a slowing Chinese economy was reported.

Oil prices fell nearly 1.0 percent on Friday, and have now seen the longest stretch of daily declines since 1984, on rising global supply and evidence of a slowing world economy.

The United States formally imposed punitive sanctions on Iran this week, but granted eight countries temporary waivers allowing them to keep buying oil from the Islamic Republic.

“Oil is spooking the market. If oil prices are going to go lower that’s another sign that the global economy is going to slow its growth,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 201.92 points, or 0.77 percent, to 25,989.3, the SP 500 .SPX lost 25.82 points, or 0.92 percent, to 2,781.01 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 123.98 points, or 1.65 percent, to 7,406.90.

The SP energy index .SPSY dropped 0.4 percent after falling 2.2 percent in the previous day’s session when U.S. crude prices LCOc1 confirmed a bear market by falling 20 percent from their most recent high. [O/R]

“I think we’re going to go lower than the October low. Economic growth is slowing but it won’t slow enough to stop the Fed from hiking,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group in Minneapolis.

Investors appeared unwilling to take on risk, sending the SP technology index .SPLRCT down 1.7 percent as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) dropped 1.9 percent and semiconductor stocks .SOX tumbled 1.9 percent.

Eight of the 11 major SP sectors ended the day lower.

The consumer staples index .SPLRCS was the biggest gainer with a 0.5 percent rise while other defensive sectors such as utilities .SPLRCU and real estate .SPLRCR eked out small gains.

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Against the backdrop of the trade policy dispute between the Washington and Beijing, Chinese data showed producer inflation fell for the fourth straight month in October on cooling domestic demand and manufacturing activity, while car sales fell for a fourth consecutive month.

The Chinese data sent global stocks into a tailspin and put pressure on trade and commodity sensitive sectors. The U.S. industrials sector .SPLRCI fell 1.0 percent and materials .SPLRCM dropped more than 1.4 percent.

U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers left interest rates unchanged on Thursday, as expected and its policy statement signaled more rate rises ahead even as it noted that business investment had moderated.

The latest data on U.S. producer price inflation did little to ease worries about rising interest rates which have hampered gains in stocks this year.

Shares in tobacco companies fell after an official said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would issue a ban on the sale of fruit and candy flavored electronic cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations.

Altria Group (MO.N) ended 2.98 percent lower while British American Tobacco’s U.S. shared fell 4.2 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.22-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.95-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The benchmark SP 500 index posted 29 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 46 new highs and 113 new lows.

On U.S. exchanges 7.93 billion shares changed hands compared with the 8.39 billion average from the last 20 sessions.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Clive McKeef

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