Major U.S. stock indexes veered lower in midday trading Monday, reflecting the impact of falling commodity prices on energy and mining companies. The price of U.S. crude slumped more than 3 percent amid speculation that oil supplies will rise further once Iran's economic sanctions are removed.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,472 as of 12:15 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,049. The Nasdaq composite shed 34 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,013.
SECTOR VIEW: Eight of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index moved lower. Energy stocks fell the most, 1.8 percent. The sector is down 23 percent this year. Telecommunications services and utilities stocks edged higher.
FALLOUT: Several energy and mining companies were trading lower. Chevron fell $1.44, or 1.6 percent, to $90.61, the most in the Dow. Exxon Mobil lost 57 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $78.76. Consol Energy tumbled 74 cents, or 8.6 percent, to $7.91, while Chesapeake Energy slid 33 cents, or 7.5 percent, to $4.12.
EXECUTIVE SHAKEUP: Freeport-McMoRan fell 6.8 percent following news that James R. Moffett, the mining company's executive chairman and co-founder, is stepping down. Plunging commodity prices have led to mass layoffs across the entire industry. The move follows the recent revelation that activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a huge stake in the company. The stock shed 52 cents to $7.05.
SICK LEAVE: Valeant Pharmaceuticals lost 9.9 percent after the company announced that CEO J. Michael Pearson is taking a medical leave of absence. Pearson was hospitalized with pneumonia last week. Three executives will take over for Pearson during his absence. The company's stock fell $11.27 to $102.84.
DISCOURAGING RESULT: Chimerix plunged 80 percent after the biotechnology company's oral antiviral drug for infections associated with stem cell transplants failed in a late-stage study. The stock shed $28.49 to $6.98.
THE FORCE EFFECT: Disney rose about 1 percent. The media giant's blockbuster "Star Wars" sequel reached $1 billion at the box office over the weekend. Disney gained $1.22 cents to $107.08.
OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 0.7 percent, while France's CAC 40 was off 1 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei added 0.6 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 2.6 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 1 percent. The London Stock Exchange remained closed for the holiday break, as did exchanges in Ireland and Australia.
THE GLUT GOES ON: After recovering a bit last week, oil prices slid again amid reports that Iran intends to increase exports by 500,000 barrels per day once economic sanctions are removed. That would only add to excess global supplies that have helped depress oil prices.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed $1.30, or 3.4 percent, to $36.82 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost $1.11, or 2.9 percent, to $36.78 per barrel in London.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.22 percent from 2.25 percent. The dollar slipped to 120.32 yen while the euro rose to $1.0977.