US stocks open modestly lower, led by energy sector

AP News
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Posted: Aug 31, 2015 10:29 AM
US stocks open modestly lower, led by energy sector

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks moved lower in early trading Monday, as oil prices fell and investors reacted to signs that the Federal Reserve was still on pace to raise rates this month. It sets up another volatile week on Wall Street, which has been battered this month.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 141 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,494 as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,975 and the Nasdaq composite lost 21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,808.

FED PLANS: Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fisher said over the weekend that policymakers still had a "pretty strong case" for raising rates in September. That ran counter to recent market sentiment that China's economic slowdown and global market volatility might prompt the nation's central bank to wait. Speaking at the Fed's annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Fisher emphasized he was not saying what action the Fed might take at its September meeting but analysts took his comments to mean he saw the economy moving close to satisfying the Fed's conditions for a hike.

It would be the Fed's first reverse from its policy in place since the 2008 crisis of ultra-low rates that have pushed up stock prices.

GO AWAY AUGUST: It's been a brutal month for investors. Heading into the last the last trading day of August, the S&P 500 is down 6.2, its worst month since 2012. The sell-off was so steep last week, the S&P 500 briefly entered into correction territory, or a drop of 10 percent or more from its most recent high.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined $1.14 to $44.10 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. After a two-month decline, crude gained last week but appears ready to lose more ground.

Energy stocks fell, with oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron down roughly 2 percent each. Noble Energy fell nearly 7 percent and Diamond Offshore was down 4 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: International markets were volatile once again. The Shanghai Composite Index was down by as much as 2.6 percent during the day but recovered to close 0.8 percent lower at 3,205.99. Hong Kong's Hang Seng also spent most of the day in negative territory before closing up 0.3 percent at 21,670.58. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 1.3 percent to 18,890.48.

In Europe, stocks were also broadly lower. Germany's DAX lost 1 percent and France's CAC-40 lost 1 percent. U.K.'s markets were closed for a holiday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 121.36 yen from 121.38 yen on Friday. The euro rose to $1.1204 from $1.1180.