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US stocks finish lower after volatile session

/ 06:39 AM December 17, 2014
Wall Street 62314

Specialist James Sciulli works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. US stocks closed lower Tuesday amid unease over falling oil prices and the crash of the Russian ruble. AP

NEW YORK – US stocks Tuesday finished lower following a topsy-turvy session amid unease over plunging oil prices and a crash in the Russian ruble.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell dropped 111.97 points (0.65 percent) to 17,068.87. The blue-chip index climbed as high as 17,427.44 in late morning before tumbling.

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The broad-based S&P 500 fell 16.89 (0.85 percent) to 1,972.74, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index sank 57.32 (1.24 percent) to 4,547.83.

US oil prices stabilized, but the benchmark European contract fell below $60 a barrel.

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Meanwhile, the Russian ruble crashed to extreme lows Tuesday, trading at 80 rubles to the dollar and 100 to the euro.

Adding to the mix, investors were eyeing a US Federal Reserve meeting that culminates Wednesday with a policy announcement that could adjust the central bank’s outlook for raising interest rates in 2015.

“There are just a lot of pieces in play,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.

A sell-off in tech stocks hit Apple (-1.4 percent), Facebook (-3.0 percent) and Google (-3.6 percent), among others.

Microsoft fell 3.2 percent on a downgrade from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which cited a “murkier outlook” and the “elevated valuation” of the stock.

Citigroup dropped 3.1 percent on concerns that it is more exposed to Russia than other large banks.

Some petroleum-linked equities rallied as US oil prices stabilized. Dow component Chevron rose 0.8 percent, Apache gained 2.7 percent and oil-services company Schlumberger rose 0.4 percent.

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Dow member Boeing gained 1.8 percent after announcing it was hiking its quarterly dividend by 25 percent and that it increased its share repurchase plan to $12 billion. The aerospace giant had $4.8 billion remaining in authorized share repurchases prior to the move.

Drugstore CVS Health gained 2.7 percent as it projected 2015 earnings of $5.05-$5.19 per share. Analysts estimated $5.11 per share in earnings next year.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.07 percent from 2.12 percent Monday, while the 30-year dropped to 2.70 percent from 2.75 percent. Bond yields and prices move inversely.

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TAGS: Dow Jones, economy, Market, NASDAQ, oil prices, ruble, S&P, US Federal Reserve, US stocks
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