US stocks FALL, dragged down by tumbling oil prices

NEW YORK – US stocks fell modestly on Wednesday (Aug 31), pulled down by sinking oil prices, closing out a sluggish August which saw the S&P 500 score its first monthly loss since February.

The  Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 53.42 points (0.29 per cent) at 18,400.88.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 5.17 points (0.24 per cent) at 2,170.95, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite lost 9.77 points (0.19 per cent) to 5,213.22.

Oil prices continued a 10-day slide with a three per cent drop as US stockpiles mounted, signaling more oversupply pain for the market.

ExxonMobil lost 0.6 per cent and Chevron 1.1 per cent, and oilfield service giant Schlumberger gave up 2.0 per cent.

Apple shares edged up 0.2 per cent a day after the European Commission socked it with a huge US$14.5 billion tax bill, saying Ireland had given the company unfair tax advantages. Apple said it would appeal the ruling and that it was confident it would win its case.

Among the Dow blue chips, Intel led the gainers with a 0.5 per cent rise.

Drug manufacturer Abbott Labs fell 1.9 per cent after diagnostics company Alere accused it of trying to pull out of its February deal to buy Alere for US$5.8 billion. Alere shares fell 0.5 per cent.

In tech shares, Twitter surged 4.5 per cent after co-founder Ev Williams told Bloomberg TV that the company would have to weigh any credible overture to buy it.

“We’re in a strong position now, and as a board member we have to consider the right options,” he said, among swirling rumors that the company is a target.