Inflation worries take stocks lower
NEW YORK » Wall Street slid lower yesterday, with inflation concerns and a disappointing earnings report from Viacom Inc. prompting investors to collect profits. A drop in oil prices failed to mitigate the losses.
Investors grew jittery as the latest unemployment figures showed strength in the labor market. First-time jobless claims fell by 20,000 from the previous week to 278,000 -- a far sharper drop than economists had expected.
While a strong labor market is generally good news, Wall Street remains concerned that the additional buying power that comes with steady employment could push prices higher and spark inflation, prompting the Federal Reserve to keep hiking interest rates.
Still, investors were pleased with a drop in oil prices, which fell below $60 per barrel at one point after the Energy Department reported a rise in crude oil stockpiles. A barrel of light crude settled at $60.54, down 47 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 67.95, or 0.61 percent, to 11,069.22.
Broader stock indicators also fell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.88, or 0.38 percent, to 1,287.79, and the Nasdaq composite index dropped 3.85, or 0.17 percent, to 2,279.32.
Bonds fell, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbing to 4.56 percent from 4.53 percent late Wednesday.