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The Markets This Week

December 17, 2014 | Weekly Commentary

U.S. equity markets suffered their largest point declines in more than three years last week, as investors, spooked by oil’s decline, went on a broad-based selling-spree. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave back 678 points, and dropped more than 100 points in the last 30 minutes of trading on Friday.

The Dow dropped 678 points, or 3.8%, last week, to 17,280.83, its largest point and percentage drop since 2011. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index 500 fell 73 points to 2002.33, its largest point drop since 2011 and largest percentage drop since 2012. The tumble came after seven consecutive weeks of gains. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 127 points, or 2.7%, to 4653.6.

European markets also plunged, with major indexes including the FTSE 100 and the DAX registering their largest losses since 2011. Oil led the market lower, with crude futures dropping $8.03 per barrel, or 12.2%, to $57.81, the lowest price it has settled at since May 2009. Oil hit its 52-week high of $107.26 in June, and has since fallen 46%—24% just in the past three weeks.

Oil bulls got bad news on both the supply and demand fronts. The International Energy Agency cut its estimate for oil demand growth Friday. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said Thursday he had no intentions of cutting production amid the recent price plunge, adding to oil’s skid. “The story for crude remains the same—slower global growth, excess supply, and an unwillingness of OPEC and others to cut production as they continue to vie for market share,” wrote Yousef Abbasi, the global market strategist at JonesTrading.

(Source: Barrons Online)

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