US stocks continue to drop over geopolitical tensions

” Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose as uncertainty triggered by airstrikes in Yemen drove investors to safe-haven assets.”
New York, March 27(IANS) – US stocks ended mildly lower after volatile trading on Thursday, as investors weighed the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East against an upbeat job report, a media report said on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 40.31 points, or 0.23 percent, to 17,678.23. The S&P 500 dipped 4.90 points, or 0.24 percent, to 2,056.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 13.16 points, or 0.27 percent, to 4,863.36, reported Xinhua.

Tensions intensified in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies began a military operation in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar said on Thursday that they had decided to act to protect Yemen against aggression by the Houhti militia, according to a joint statement.

Oil prices spiked on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and its allies launched airstrikes on Yemen, with both the US oil and Brent crude surging more than 4 percent.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery gained 2.22 US dollars to settle at 51.43 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The geopolitical worries of Yemen overshadowed the negative effect of supply glut.

US crude production reached 9.422 million barrels a day last week, the highest level since 1983, according to Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

Economic data came out positive.

US jobless claims fell to a five-week low, and investors believed such data pointed to a healthy and expanding labour market.

In the week ending March 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims decreased 9,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level to 282,000, well below market consensus of 293,000, said the US Labor Department on Thursday.

US stocks fell sharply Wednesday, with all three major indices extending their losses into a third straight session.

The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, increased 2.33 percent to end at 15.80 on Thursday.

In other markets, the dollar climbed against most major currencies as data showed the country’s jobless claims increased less than expected.

In late New York trading, the euro declined to 1.0872 dollars from 1.0958 dollars in the previous session, while the dollar bought 119.24 Japanese yen, lower than 119.63 yen of the previous session.

Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose as uncertainty triggered by airstrikes in Yemen drove investors to safe-haven assets.

The most active gold contract for April delivery rose 7.8 dollars, or 0.65 percent, to settle at 1,204.80 dollars per ounce.