US stocks fall amid data, oil prices

New York, Dec 12 (IANS) The US stocks traded sharply lower on Friday, as traders eyed data before the US Federal Reserve meeting next week that is expected to raise interest rate for the first time in nine years.

At midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 195.83 points, or 1.11 percent, to 17,378.92. The S&P 500 shed 23.95 points, or 1.17 percent, to 2,028.28. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 65.83 points, or 1.30 percent, to 4,979.34, Xinhua news agency reported.

The US Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand increased 0.3 percent in November, seasonally adjusted, the Labour Department reported on Friday.

On an unadjusted basis, the final demand index fell 1.1 percent for the 12 months ended in November, the tenth consecutive 12-month decline.

Meanwhile, according to the US Commerce Department, advance estimates of the US retail and food services sales for November rose 0.2 percent from the previous month to $448.1 billion, also below market expectations.

Total sales for the September 2015 through November 2015 period were up 1.7 percent from the same period a year ago.

Oil prices continued to hover near a seven-year low after the decision of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) last Friday to keep crude production pumping at the current level in an already oversupplied market.

The West Texas Intermediate for January delivery dropped 1.96 percent around midday Friday, and Brent crude for January delivery also lost 2.77 percent.

In corporate news, the US chemical giants DuPont and Dow Chemical on Friday announced a merge in an all-stock deal worth up to approximately $130 billion.

The combined company will be named DowDuPont, with plans to pursue a separation into three spin-offs eventually.

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