Plunging oil prices drag on energy stocks; S&P 500 down 0.1%.
US stocks finished mostly lower on Wednesday, dragged down by plunging energy shares following a nearly 4% decline in crude oil.
The large-cap S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY) declined 0.2% to close at 2,338.17. Six of 11 sectors finished in negative territory. Energy stocks declined 1.4%, while utilities finished 0.7% lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) declined 118.79 points, or 0.6%, to 20,404.49. That was its second triple-digit decline in three days.
Dow blue-chip IBM Corp (NYSEARCA:IBM) plunged nearly 5% after the technology juggernaut posted disappointing first quarter results.
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index (NYSEARCA:QQQ) bucked the downtrend, closing 0.2% higher at 5,860.28.
A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX (NYSEARCA:VXX) edged slightly higher on Wednesday, climbing .35% to 14.93. The volatility gauge has moderated from last week’s high when it rose more than 20%.
Crude prices plunged nearly 4% in New York after the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a smaller than expected drop in weekly crude inventories. Stockpiles held in domestic storage facilities fell by 1.03 million barrels in the week ended April 14, compared to forecasts calling for a 1.47 million-barrel drop.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures settled down 3.6% at $50.54 a barrel. In London, Brent crude futures dropped 3.4% %to $53.02 a barrel.
The Final Word: Oil-price volatility could stoke additional declines on Wall Street, which remains sensitive to sharp fluctuations in the black commodity. Oil appears to have stabilized above $50 a barrel, but is struggling to extend gains toward the $55 range.