New York: US stocks fell on 27 Tuesday after a weak consumer confidence report fueled concerns the housing slowdown could spread into the broader economy and hurt profits.
After the closing bell, US crude oil futures spiked up $5 a barrel on geopolitical concerns tied to Iran, sending US stock futures sharply downward in electronic trading.
For a brief instant shortly before 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), US crude for May delivery surged to $68.09 per barrel, its highest level since 6 September, 2006, but later pulled back to around $64.50.
Asked to comment after the price spike, a US Navy official told Reuters there was nothing to substantiate a rumour of an Iranian military strike on a US vessel in the Gulf.
The White House also said there was nothing to indicate any military incident taking place regarding Iran.
Nonetheless, analysts said the run-up in crude prices suggested investors were on edge about Iran following Tehran’s capture of 15 British military personnel four days ago.
“Iran is a major concern,” said Peter Dunay, investment strategist at Leeb Capital Management here.
“That larger move in oil, which is nearly 8-9% in a single tick, is a definite shock that the market. It’s certainly going to be unnerved by it,” he added.
S&P 500 futures were down 3.10 points, below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.
Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 49 points and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 7.25 points in electronic trade after the closing bell.
In regular trading on Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 71.78 points, or 0.58%, to finish at 12,397.29. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 8.89 points, or 0.62%, to end at 1,428.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 18.20 points, or 0.74%, to close at 2,437.43.