Stocks slide as a late tumble erases post-Fed gains

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks skidded Thursday as a late drop erased the market’s gains from the day before. Companies that sell oil, gold and silver tumbled along with the prices of those commodities.

Thursday’s slide marked the end of a three-day winning streak. Indexes drifted lower in the morning and fell sharply in the final minutes of trading. Energy stocks fell as the price of oil slumped again, and lower metals prices hurt mining companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average sank 253.25 points, or 1.4 percent, to 17,495.84. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 31.18 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,041.89. The Nasdaq composite index gave up 68.58 points, or 1.4 percent, to 5,002.55.

Energy and mining stocks have been pummeled this year as the sluggish global economy reduces demand even as supplies become more abundant. U.S. crude fell 57 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $34.95 a barrel in New York. It had not closed beneath $35 since Feb. 18, 2009 and traded above $60 a barrel as recently as June.

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Chevron lost $2.90, or 3.1 percent, to $90.54 and Marathon Oil lost $1, or 7.3 percent, to $12.78.

Natural gas, which has fallen to 16-year lows, gave up another 3.5 cents, or 2 percent, to $1.755 per 1,000 cubic feet. The price of natural gas has tumbled as demand has collapsed. Thanks to the warm weather, customers haven’t needed much gas to heat their homes this winter. And demand from industrial customers has been weak.

Metals prices gave up their gains from Wednesday. The price of gold fell $27.20, or 2.5 percent, to $1,049.60 an ounce and silver sank 54.5 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $13.703 an ounce. Copper fell 2.8 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $2.044 a pound.

Among mining stocks, Newmont Mining dropped $1.47, or 7.7 percent, to $17.61 and Freeport-McMoRan lost 57 cents, or 8.5 percent, to $6.12.

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Only utility stocks traded higher. Utilities have also struggled this year, but including a tiny gain Thursday, they have risen for four days in a row and are up 4 percent over that time. Utility stocks are seen as steady performers that pay regular dividends, and some investors think payments are going to increase. Duke Energy rose 47 cents to $70.50 and Ameren Corp. gained $1.03, or 2.4 percent, to $44.03.

Solar power stocks continued to rise after Congress agreed to extend a federal tax credit for commercial and residential solar projects. Leading Democrats and Republicans reportedly agreed to extend the 30-percent credit through 2019, after which it will wind down over two years. The credit was scheduled to fall in 2017 and be eliminated in 2018.

SolarCity gained $3.57, or 6.6 percent, to $57.26 and Sunrun added $1.08, or 9.3 percent, to $12.71. The stocks are up 55 percent and 62 percent this week, respectively.

“This was one of the biggest risks confronting the industry over the last year,” said Angelica Jarvenpaa, research associate for Raymond James. She said solar power companies didn’t know if the tax credit would be allowed to expire.

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Jarvenpaa said the agreement is “among the best case scenarios” for solar power because it tells companies what they can expect for the next several years. She added that the extension will benefit the entire industry, including companies that serve homes, businesses, utilities and manufacturers of solar cells.

Shipping company FedEx said its quarterly profit grew as online shopping increased and costs in its express-delivery business came down. FedEx also said it thinks holiday shipments will rise by more than 12 percent from a year ago. FedEx rose $3.01, or 2 percent, to $151.84.

Streaming music company Pandora Media surged. A panel of copyright judges raised the amount that streaming companies like Pandora have to pay to record labels, but the increase was less than many had expected. Pandora jumped $1.82, or 13.5 percent, to $15.26.

Business software maker Oracle had its worst day in more than two years. The stock slipped after Oracle reported a smaller quarterly profit. Its revenue also fell short of analyst forecasts. The shares declined $1.98, or 5.1 percent, to $36.93.

The dollar climbed. While the Fed is raising interest rates, central banks in Europe and Japan are planning to lower them. That will make the dollar even stronger. A strong dollar hurts U.S. exporters but makes imports cheaper.

The euro dropped to $1.0805 from $1.0970. The dollar rose to 122.85 yen from 121.85 yen.

U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.23 percent from 2.30 percent late Wednesday.

In other energy trading, Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 33 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $37.06 a barrel in London. The price of wholesale gasoline rose 2.9 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $1.262 a gallon in New York. Heating oil slipped 0.7 cents to $1.105 a gallon.