(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Friday as oil prices plunged to their lowest in more than a year, dragging down energy shares, while U.S.-China trade talks at the G20 summit next week kept investors on edge in a truncated trading session.
Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was down more than 6 percent on mounting concerns over rising global surplus, even as producers considered cutting output to curb supply.
Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) fell more than 3 percent and were the leading decliners on the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI. Oilfield service providers Schlumberger NV (SLB.N) and Halliburton Co (HAL.N) also fell nearly 3 percent.
That pressured the S&P energy index .SPNY, which fell 3.4 percent, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors.
The energy sector has lost 16.5 percent since the beginning of October, making it the worst performing S&P sector during the period and putting it on pace for its biggest two-month drop since September 2011.
“If we get clarity on any of these – oil prices, trade war with China and the Federal Reserve’s rate of monetary policy tightening – we could go a long way towards making investors comfortable in investing in the market,” said Neil Massa, senior equity trader at Manulife Asset Management in Boston.
Volumes were light, Massa pointed out. The U.S. stock market will close at 1 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) after being shut for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
At 11:15 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 100.53 points, or 0.41 percent, at 24,364.16, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 7.27 points, or 0.27 percent, at 2,642.66 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 2.25 points, or 0.03 percent, at 6,974.50.
Investors will be focusing on the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, where U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are expected to hold talks amid a worsening trade dispute between the two countries that has weighed on financial markets and sparked fears of a global slowdown.
The high-stakes meeting comes as the Trump administration shows little sign of backing down in its demands and rhetoric. Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said on Friday that trade talks should be equal and mutually beneficial.
Adding to worries, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. government was trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in allied countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL].
U.S. shoppers hit department stores for Black Friday deals, with a strong economy and rising wages driving a solid start to the holiday selling season.
Among other stocks, United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) rose 3.0 percent after receiving conditional approval from China’s market regulator to buy aircraft parts maker Rockwell Collins Inc (COL.N). Rockwell shares jumped 9.3 percent .
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.57-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 16 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded eight new highs and 50 new lows.
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