US stocks retreat as oil plunges 

New York, Jan 26 (IANS) US stocks suffered big losses on Monday, as a renewed decline in oil prices weighed on Wall Street ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 208.29 points, or 1.29 percent, to 15,885.22. The S&P 500 dropped 29.82 points, or 1.56 percent, to 1,877.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 72.69 points, or 1.58 percent, to 4,518.49.

With no major economic data due out on Monday, oil prices were still in focus, which had witnessed wild swings recently.

Oil prices tumbled over 5 percent on profit taking Monday after Friday’s surge, as Iraq announced record-high oil production.

Oil prices skyrocketed last week for about 10 percent on the hope that stimulus from Eurozone and frigid weather across the United States will lift the demand.

As it will take years to wash out the whole supply in oil market and reach the balance point where supply meets demand, many analysts do not expect oil prices would recovery soon.

Investors also kept a close eye on the US central bank, which will start its two-day meeting on Tuesday and will release a statement after the conclusion on Wednesday.

Analysts expect that the Fed not to take any rate action at this meeting amid oil weakness.

In corporate news, shares of McDonald’s rose 0.68 percent to $119.20 apiece on Monday, after the fast-food chain delivered better-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Latest data from Thomson Reuters showed that the S&P 500 companies’ blended earnings in the fourth quarter of 2015 are expected to decrease 4.5 percent year on year, while the revenue is forecast to decline 3.6 percent.

Overseas, European equities ended lower amid falling oil prices on Monday, with British benchmark FTSE 100 Index decreasing 0.39 percent.

In Asia, Chinese benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.75 percent to close at 2,938.51 points, while Japanese benchmark 225- issue Nikkei Stock Average added 0.90 percent to end at 17,110.91 points.

On Friday, US stocks posted their first weekly gains of the new year, with the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq going up 0.7 percent, 1.4 percent and 2.3 percent respectively, as further recovery in oil prices boosted investor sentiment.

Tokyo shares open lower

Tokyo shares opened trading on Tuesday sharply lower on poor US market performance overnight and a fresh slide for oil prices.

At 9.15 a.m., the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average plunged 375.01 points, or 2.19 percent, from Monday to 16,735.90, reported Xinhua.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 29.95 points, or 2.15 percent, to 1,362.68.

South Korea’s diesel car imports set record in Q4

Diesel car imports in South Korea set a new record in the fourth quarter last year despite worry that Volkswagen’s emissions scandal may dent demand for foreign luxury vehicles, customs data showed on Tuesday.

The country’s foreign car imports reached $2.66 billion during the October-December period, up 10.2 percent from the previous three months, according to the Korea Customs Service.

The number of auto imports increased 5.9 percent from the previous quarter to 87,000 units in the fourth quarter.

Diesel car imports reached $836 million for mid-sized vehicles and $867 million for large-sized ones each, setting new records for both in the fourth quarter.

The record-high sales came despite concerns about emissions fabricating scandal involving German carmaker Volkswagen, which cheated on greenhouse gas emissions with software embedded in diesel models.

The customs agency attributed the record sales to aggressive marketing efforts and discount sales promotions by foreign automakers.

Car exports by local automakers declined 8.3 percent from a year earlier to $10.74 billion during the three-month period to December 31. The number of car exports slumped 4.3 percent to 774,000 units.

Auto demand from the Middle East weakened as falling crude oil prices hit hard the oil-exporting countries.

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