Stocks have moved mostly lower over the course of morning trading on Tuesday, extending the sell-off seen in the previous session. The major averages fluctuated early in the session but have slid more firmly into negative territory.
Currently, the major averages are off their lows of the session but still in the red. The Dow is down 121.51 points or 0.4 percent at 32,695.87, the Nasdaq is down 120.93 points or 0.9 percent at 12,710.04 and the S&P 500 is down 29.12 points or 0.7 percent at 4,171.97.
A continued surge by the price of crude oil continues to weigh on Wall Street, with crude for April delivery skyrocketing $9.82 to $129.22 a barrel.
The latest spike in oil prices comes after a report from NBC News said the U.S. could announce a ban on Russian oil imports as early as today.
The European Union has also revealed plans to reduce its dependence on Russia, with the bloc’s executive arm the European Commission pledging to reduce Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of this year.
Gas stations are raising prices along with the spike in oil futures, as AAA has said the average price for a gallon of gas has reached a record high of $4.173.
The national average gas price is up by nearly $0.11 a gallon from just yesterday and up more than $0.55 a gallon from a week ago.
The higher gas prices are likely to weigh on consumer spending in other areas, potentially leading to an economic slowdown even as the Federal Reserve prepares to begin raising interest rates.
In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department released a report showing the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than expected in the month of January.
The Commerce Department said the trade deficit widened to $89.7 billion in January from a revised $82.0 billion in December.
Economists had expected the deficit to climb to $87.1 billion from the $80.7 billion originally reported for the previous month. With the bigger than expected increase, the trade deficit reached a new record high.
The wider trade deficit came as the value of imports jumped by 1.2 percent to $314.1 billion, while the value of exports tumbled by 1.7 percent to $224.4 billion.
Brokerage stocks are seeing considerable weakness in morning trading, dragging the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index down by 2.1 percent to its lowest intraday level in a year.
Significant weakness has also emerged among steel stocks, as reflected by the 1.7 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.
Healthcare, tobacco and transportation stocks have also moved to the downside, while oil service stocks are extending the rally seen in the previous session.
Reflecting the continued surge in crude oil prices, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index has soared by 7.2 percent to its best intraday level in almost three years.
Gold stocks are also seeing substantial strength amid a spike by the price of the precious metal, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index surging by 4.1 percent.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw continued weakness during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1.7 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 2.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have shown a lack of direction over the course of the session. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.7 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved notably lower amid concerns about higher inflation. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 9.3 basis points at 1.844 percent.
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