Stocks tumble as oil prices drop below $46 a barrel

August 04 01:35 2015

Markets kicked off August in a downbeat fashion as stocks dropped sharply and the price of oil tumbled below $46 a barrel. The Dow Jones industrial average was down about 180 points, or 1%, in afternoon trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 0.7% and the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.7%.AP FINANCIAL MARKETS WALL STREET F USA NY

Energy stocks led the decliners as U.S. benchmark crude dropped 3.7% to $45.39, falling to its lowest level in four months. Wall Street was hit by waves of worry in July, with stocks gyrating sharply amid fears of a Greek financial meltdown and anxiety created by a sharp plunge in China’s stock market. U.S. growth clocked in at 2.3% in the second quarter, a tad below estimates but better than the weak 0.6% growth in the winter-affected first quarter. And despite the volatility, the major benchmarks posted gains for the month.

But August hasn’t been a super-bullish month for stocks, according to data from Bespoke Investment Group. It ranks last in monthly performance for the Dow in the past 20 years, posting an average loss of 1.1% and finishing up in August only 55% of the time, according to Bespoke. The Athens stock exchange in Greece tumbled as much as 23% Monday and closed down 16% after resuming trading following a five-week closure. The country’s four main banks, including the National Bank of Greece, were down by around 30%, the daily limit.

Trading was suspended in late June as the country faced financial ruin. Greece struck a bailout deal with its international creditors last month. The plunge in Greek stocks had little effect on the rest of Europe as the major benchmarks were mostly higher. Germany’s DAX index jumped 1.2% and France’s CAC 40 was 0.8% higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down  0.1%. Asian stocks fell Monday on weaker Chinese manufacturing and lower oil prices. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.2% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.9%. The Shanghai Composite lost 1.1%. U.S. stocks fell slightly Friday, but Wall Street closed out a volatile July with monthly gains.

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