Oil Drops to $76.45 a Barrel

From the Associated Press



NEW YORK

Stocks edged mostly lower on Tuesday, led by a drop in energy stocks as oil continued to fall. Investors were also disappointed by the earnings outlooks from companies including Priceline and Michael Kors.

Keeping score: The Standard & Poor?s 500 index fell 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,005 as of 12:11 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,350 points. The Nasdaq composite dropped 36 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,602.

Oil losers: Energy stocks in the S&P 500 index dropped 2.4 percent, extending their losses for the year to 5.6 percent as oil prices fell. U.S. benchmark crude slumped $2.33, or almost 3 percent, to $76.45 a barrel, the lowest price since October 2011. Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell $2.34, or 2.8 percent, to $82.43 a barrel.

Oil has fallen sharply in recent weeks as global supplies rise while demand for fuel trails earlier expectations.

Oil winners: The slumping price of oil is giving a boost to airlines, because the cost of fuel is their single largest operating costs. Delta Airlines surged $1.56, or 3.8 percent, to $42.15. United Continental, Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines also logged big gains.

Consumer boost: While slumping oil prices are hitting stocks hard, they should benefit the economy in the longer run as lower gas prices filter through to consumers, said Ernie Cecilia, Chief Investment Officer of Bryn Mawr Trust. The consumer should also benefit as interest rates continue to remain low, even after the Federal Reserve has stopped buying bonds as part of its economic stimulus measures.

?When oil spikes, all you hear about is that it?s a tax on the consumer, so conversely, it?s a windfall of sorts for the consumer, so it?s a plus,? said Cecelia.





   

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