Oil slides further to US$30
US stocks were mostly higher in midday trading Tuesday, with health care and technology companies among the biggest gainers. Another slide in crude oil prices pulled down energy stocks.
Investors also had their eye on corporate earnings, which are just starting to trickle out.
A day after slumping 5.3 per cent, the price of US crude oil slipped another US$1.15, or 3.7 per cent, to US$30.26 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell US$1, or 3.1 per cent, to US$30.88 a barrel in London.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost one point to 16,397 as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose one point to 1,924. The Nasdaq composite climbed 16 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,654. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, has fallen for the past eight trading days.
Deepening fears about a protracted slowdown in China's economy coupled with worries about Beijing's ability to manage its financial markets have kept investors on edge after sharp losses last week. A steep downturn in crude oil prices has also weighed on the market. The three major US stock indexes are all down for the year, with the Dow and S&P 500 index off about 5 per cent, while the Nasdaq is down 6 per cent.
Energy and mining companies were trading lower as oil prices continued to decline. Alcoa sank 9.1 per cent after the aluminium manufacturer's latest quarterly results included revenue that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. The stock dropped 72 cents to US$7.28.
European markets moved higher. Germany's DAX was up 2 per cent, while the CAC-40 in France rose 1.9 per cent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 1.2 per cent. In Asia, China's Shanghai composite closed 0.2 per cent higher, recovering some of its losses from the day before. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 2.7 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.9 per cent, while South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.2 per cent.
China's tightly controlled onshore currency, which was the source of last week's market turmoil after authorities guided it sharply lower, was little changed. However, interbank rates spiked for the offshore yuan, which is freely traded in Hong Kong, leading many to believe China's central bank is intervening in the market in order to foil speculators trying to drive it lower.