Stocks drop as oil tops $66 a barrel |

Stocks drop as oil tops $66 a barrel

NEW YORK – Stocks skidded Tuesday as oil prices rose past $66 a barrel and Wells Fargo & Co. and other bank earnings disappointed the market.U.S. investors sold off equities as crude oil futures soared after an attack on an oil platform in Nigeria, the fifth largest oil exporter to the United States. A barrel of light crude settled at a three-and-a-half month high of $66.31, up $2.39, in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.Oil prices have been creeping higher for weeks but Tuesday’s “sharp, violent rise” bit into stocks as investors consolidated gains from the first weeks of January, said Steven Goldman, chief market strategist, Weeden & Co. in Greenwich, Conn.Disappointing bank earnings also spurred selling. Wells Fargo missed analysts’ expectations, saying a spike in personal bankruptcies in the fourth quarter hurt its results. Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp said its margins are narrowing and its net interest income fell 2 percent from the year-ago period.Falling international markets also troubled U.S. investors. Japan’s main stock index fell 2.84 percent, its biggest loss in nearly two years, after Tokyo-based Internet company Livedoor Co. was raided Monday evening over suspected securities violations. The news sparked a selloff of other Internet companies and pushed down auto and electronics stocks. Other international markets also dropped Tuesday.According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 63.55, or 0.58 percent, to 10,896.32.Broader stock indicators also dropped. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.68, or 0.36 percent, to 1,282.93, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 14.35, or 0.62 percent, to 2,302.69.Vail, Colorado

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