Dow falls 228 on economic fears, Saudi unrest

The blue chips drop below 12,000 for the first time since Jan. 31. News that Saudi police disperse protesters worsens a slumping market. Oil drops. Weekly jobless claims are worse than expected. Green Mountain Coffee will sell Starbucks coffee.

By Charley Blaine Mar 10, 2011 12:40PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 7:11 p.m. ET

The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) suffered their worst losses  since August as stocks sold off broadly on worries about continued unrest in the Middle East and Libya and disappointment with a report on jobless claims in the United States.

Adding to the stress was a surprising decline in Chinese exports that sent commodity prices plunging until news broke that police in Saudi Arabia had fired rubber bullets on protesters in Qatif, a city on the east coast near Bahrain. There were reports of injuries.

Within seconds of the report, the Dow saw a decline of some 160 points grow to as many as 239 points.

Crude oil in New York, which had dropped below $101 in the morning, shot up to as high as $104.25 before falling back to settle at $102.70, down $1.68 from Wednesday. Crude was at $102.27 in electronic trading this afternoon.
The Dow finished down 228 points, or 1.9%, to 11,985. It was the first close below 12,000 for the blue-chip index since Jan. 31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) was off 25 points, or 1.9%, to 1,295 -- its first close below 1,300 since Jan. 31. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) was off 51 points, or 1.8%, to 2,701.

As important as the losses themselves, all three indexes finished below their 50-day moving averages on the same day for the first time since Aug. 31. The 50-day average is watched closely as an important measure of investor confidence. A drop below the 50-day moving average could be a signal the market is headed lower. If you're a bull, you'll like how futures trading says U.S. stocks will open: higher.

Article continues below.

The market's abrupt slump this afternoon reflects how jittery Wall Street is about continued unrest in Libya and the Middle East. Websites have called for a "Day of Rage" Friday in Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch said.

The day's selling also reflected renewed worries about European debt problems after Moody's downgraded Spain's credit rating.

While crude was traded lower in New York, Brent crude, the benchmark North Sea crude, settled down 51 cents to $115.43 a barrel. It had hit $116.39 on the Saudi report.

Gold was off $16.10, or 1.1%, to $1,413.50 an ounce in electronic trading. It settled at $1,412.50 an ounce, down $17.10. Copper was down 4.2 cents to $4.1975 a pound. Silver settled at $35.066 an ounce, down 98 cents.

Interest rates were lower, with the 10-year Treasury yield falling to 3.393% from Wednesday's 3.469%.

Energy prices -- New York close
Crude oil 

$102.70  $104.38  5.91%  12.39%
(per barrel)




Heating oil

$3.0449  $3.0707  3.42%  19.70%
(per gallon)




Natural gas 

$3.8300  $3.9300  -5.39%  -13.05%
(per mil. BTU)




Unleaded gasoline




(per gallon)




Brent crude

$114.14  $115.04  2.09%  20.46%
(per barrel)

Retail gasoline




(per gallon; AAA)

Jobless claims move higher
The market struggled with a long string of bad news.

U.S. jobless claims rose an unexpected 26,000 to 397,000. Most analysts had expected claims to rise only to 376,000.

The U.S. trade deficit widened more than forecast in January to the highest level in seven months as a surge in imports led by costlier crude oil overshadowed record exports. The gap in goods and services increased 15% to $46.3 billion, from $40.3 billion in December, the Commerce Department said.

China reported an unexpected trade deficit in February as exports declined and higher commodity prices boosted its import bill. The news pushed stocks in Japan and Hong Kong lower. The Nikkei 225 Index ($JP:N225) fell 1.5% to 10,434.

Moody's lowered Spain's credit rating by one notch to Aa2, citing concerns about the cost to restructure banks and the government's ability to reduce borrowing. Britain's FTSE-100 Index ($GB:UKX) was off 1.4% to 5,845. Germany's DAX Index ($DE:DAX) dropped 0.5% to 7,132.

McDonald's only Dow stock in black

All that bad news just battered stocks, and the Dow is off 3.2% since peaking on Feb. 18. The S&P 500 is off 3.4%, with the Nasdaq off 4.7%.

Only one of the 30 Dow stocks was higher: McDonald's (MCD), up 1.2% to $76.68. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), was higher for much of the day before slipping back to $52.65, down 2 cents.

The biggest Dow losers were Caterpillar (CAT), down 3.9% to $98.39; Exxon Mobil (XOM), down 3.6% to $81.38; and 3M (MMM) down 3.4% to $90.01.

Starbucks, Green Mountain are the stars of the Nasdaq

If you wanted some splashy news, look no further than Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), whose shares jumped 41.4% to $61.71, tops among Nasdaq stocks. The company agreed to sell Starbucks' (SBUX) coffee and Taxo tea products for use in Green Mountain's Keurig brewing system this fall.

Starbucks was up 9.9% to $37.97, tops among Nasdaq-100 ($NDX.X) stocks and among S&P 500 stocks.

The partnership strengthens Starbucks' presence in the nearly $2 billion single-cup coffee market, which the coffee giant entered last year with the launch of VIA Ready Brew. It also ends speculation that Starbucks will debut its own single-cup brewer.

But decliners dominated the market

Only 26 S&P 500 stocks were higher today, along with just eight Nasdaq-100 stocks. The Nasdaq-100 was down 38 points, or 1.7%, to 2,284. Following Starbucks in the Nasdaq-100 were Netfix (NFLX), up 3.6% to $200.02, and F5 Networks (FFIV), up 1.8% to $110.06.

The biggest laggard was Nvidia (NVDA), down 6.4%, to $17.92. Next was NetApp (NTAP), down 6.1% to $48.41. Investors are skeptical on how well it can manage the acquisition of LSI's (LSI) Eugenio business. NetApp announced the $480 million deal on Wednesday.

All 10 sectors of the S&P 500 were lower, with energy hit the hardest, thanks to lower oil and natural gas prices. In addition to Exxon Mobil's decline, Chevron (CVX) was down 3% to $99.08. Peabody Energy (BTU), the big coal producer, was down 5.8% to $61.59. Schlumberger (SLB) dropped 4.5% to $84.61, and BP (BP) was off 3.7% to $45.66 in New York.

Worries of a tablet glut weigh on techs

Techs were hit hard, due in part to a decline in shares of Apple (AAPL), Research In Motion (RIMM), NVidia and others. The issue is a JPMorgan report that suggests a glut of tablet devices will be on the market this year.

The problem is that everyone is trying to catch up to Apple's iPad, analyst Mark Moskowitz wrote.

Research In Motion was off 3.4% to $62.60. Apple fell 1.7% to $346.67. 

Short hits from the markets -- New York close
 Thur.  Wed.

Month chg.

YTD chg.
Treasury yields


13-week Treasury bill




5-year Treasury note 




10-year Treasury note




30-year Treasury bond





U.S. Dollar Index




British pound




(in U.S. $)

U.S. $ in pounds




Euro in dollars




(in U.S. $)

U.S. $ in euros

€ 0.725

€ 0.719


U.S. $ in yen 




U.S. $ in Chinese





Canada dollar




(in U.S. $)

U.S. dollar 




(in Canadian $)









(per troy ounce)







(per pound)





(per troy ounce)





(per bushel)





(per bushel)


$2.0098  $1.9123  -2.03%  38.79%
(per pound)

Crude oil 




(per barrel)

Mar 10, 2011 1:09PM
Man...the constant lies are really getting bad with this administration and media collusion...I thought the other day Jobless benefits had worse than 'expected'...a word so overused the last two years that we keep on hanging on to it...seems desperation is creeping in.
Mar 10, 2011 3:58PM
I am confused, who keeps saying our economy is on the rebound.  Not sure gas prices reflect that, nor any other prices fore that matter.  In 2006, I made 108,000, was laid off, got a job that paid 46,000 a year, lost my house, but had a job.  Now I make 13.00 and hour, because I was having a hard time finding job with a similar salary. My kids live 600 miles away from me.  Do you know how much it costs in gas to go see them?  I don't blame Bush and I don't blame Obama, I take some responsibility for my situation, but I also blame all of political leaders.  What do these rich, overpaid Politicians really know about business.  DO these politicians really know what is like to be foreclosed on, do they know what it is like to struggle paying the power bill.  Do they drive around in a car that does not have an inspection sticker, because they can't afford to fix the car.  Life is hard, but until you are in someone's elses shoe, don't act you know what it is like.  I am one of those 50 year old people who had to take a job for a lot less than I am worth.  Bottom line, the business community is scared, they don't know what the future holds, seems like everyday Congress wants new legislation.  My idea is do something, I don't care if they raise taxes, reduce taxes, new regulations, reduce regulations, etc.  Just do something, then tell America, We will not pass another law for a least 5 years.  At least then, business will know where they stand and plan accordingly. 
Mar 10, 2011 4:13PM
Really 160 points in seconds of the news ?  Stocks, oil and gold price is being driven in seconds by news blurbs and speculators ? News blurbs that we have no way to validate. What is the true jobless numbers ?  What is the long range impact of the middle east unrest ?  Times were much more stable when this kind of Info took hours or days to reach the masses.  That time lag prevented these hugh fluctuations , by the time most heard about it , it was over.  No matter who is in office R or D the instant media and the speculators will make sure to drive our country in to the toilet !  Instant new is now instant gospel ?  Dangerous very Dangerous
Mar 10, 2011 4:01PM
When are we going to crack down on the Speculators/Oil Traders.  There is no shortage of oil!!!  The price of oil/gasoline is being run up by  the speculators/oil traders.  These folks do not produce oil, refine oil or sell oil.  They never touch nor see oil.  Our economy will go down the drain if we allow this to continue.  ENOUGH...we have already had one ENRON AND THAT IS ENOUGH.   It is time to put these corporate criminals in jail and stop all this nonsense!!!
Mar 10, 2011 1:24PM

Where has Obama been? Has he tossed in the towel.?

If Michelle starts traveling on the taxpayer dime soon it will prove he knows his presidency is a one term and out deal.

Mar 10, 2011 1:55PM
The markets must have it wrong after all the Great Obama and his personal media machines have been filling headlines lately with how well the economy and jobs are recovering.  Who are we to believe the Great O or reality?
Mar 10, 2011 1:51PM

Up and down, the roller coaster ride of economic drivel.  Our unemployment rate is declining as the millions of unemployed have exhausted benefits.  Any new claims spell trouble down the road.  Here in Michigan we lost 100's of thousands in jobs during the lost decade 2000 to 2010.  Remember the numbers will get better as those who have run the course of unemployment, but the economy still won't be healed.  People are still moving out to find work, but what to do with all the vacant homes.  In Detoilet values of homes have dropped like a rock, even in Northern Michigan values have plummeted.  Who is left to buy, at $8 to $10 jobs no one can make payments with salaries like that.  Last week things looked all rosy for the economy so says Mr. Bernanke.....these guys are smoking some good stuff. 

Mar 10, 2011 2:48PM

Again you can fill in the blank with these stories, the rollercoaster ride continues. We're hiring 4 people to work 4 months. Pay 10.25 to 11.00 no benefits. These people where happy to get these jobs. Their unemployment had ran out, they're all over 50.


Stop the cheerleading, tell the truth, BOTH PARTIES need to work together for the common good of the American People, not the Lobbyist who passes out the cigars and the cash.


Stop blaming each other, the past is done, only the future is ahead. I wasn't a fan of President Reagan but. he was right when he said to get positive and look to the future. Dwindling on past failures needs to stop, People it's time to be responsible for OURSELVES and the future, But we will need American Corporations to come home, American workers to again take pride in their work.

Mar 10, 2011 4:09PM

"Youre right, Lybia does not even supply us with their oil , and prices rise to 105. what will happen if  the Saudies start.  Speculations are as high as 200.per barrell. 7 to 10 dollars gallon.  Hope does not happen .and keep your fingers crossed. "-DPO715


Too late for wishful thinking. Disruption in Saudi Arabia has already begun. If this continues or escalates to the point where oil distribution is disrupted the $hit will hit the fan, not just for the U.S., but on a global scale. My intel has informed me that WWIII is a very likely reality due to what is going on in the Middle East. Also; keep an eye on what China is doing.

Mar 10, 2011 3:00PM
What are you people griping about? Did you not read what MSN has headlined today?? Ashlee Simpson filed for divorce and is already seeing her ex.-husbands best friend!! This is absurd, heartbreaking; this needs the entire nation's attention. How can you people be so upset about the stock market at a time like this? You people are so inconsiderate. We should set our hearts to go out for Ashlee Simpson. 
Mar 10, 2011 3:47PM
Youre right, Lybia does not even supply us with their oil , and prices rise to 105. what will happen if  the Saudies start.  Speculations are as high as 200.per barrell. 7 to 10 dollars gallon.  Hope does not happen .and keep your fingers crossed. 
Mar 10, 2011 4:01PM
Thanks for all the jobs "Mr. President".  I'm really feeling the hope and "change Iyou can believe in."  Can everyone else feel love after two years of soaring deficits and Democratic leadership?  WOW I can hardly wait for the next two years. 
The Death Spiral of lost jobs and an ever weaker economy is still going on.

Before the crash half of Americans made less than $32,000 a year now half of Americans make less than $26,500 a year. Things are 20 percent worse than they were before.
At $26,500 the average house should be going for $66,500 not the $220,000 the powers that be want. They can not do simple math folks.

Bernanke can loan $9 trillion dollars to the banks and buy $2 trillion dollars of bad loans from the banks and he has said many times he will not give one red cent to create jobs. 

Why is Bernanke and Geithner still in control of our money??? They should be fired. 

We are crashing and burning again folks. The next crash is upon us and this one is going to harder than the one before.
Mar 10, 2011 2:14PM

I was just watching this past week’s 60 minutes segment on Homeless children.  As I treat many of these stories as biased or self-serving this one brought me to physical tears.


Our politicians, Democrat and Republican, liberal or undecided have all turned their backs on us, “We the people”.


I can no longer just sit here tapping out my observations about a market that really has no bearing on the true economy and those who have been forgotten. These children are the future of this country and could very easily be so bitter they spark change through violence. We need to do something now to stop this uncalled for greed by the few against the many.


Though I wish I had the money to bring real change I do have my mind and mouth to do what is asked of me. Who is willing to take the bull by the horns and help me help our fellow Americans? I for one feel other countries can take care of theirs until we get our house in order...


I am stepping forward to offer my services. Who else will stand with me?

Mar 10, 2011 5:26PM

Don't you just love that change were getting. Despite a media that pushes a liberal agenda BO has proven he has no plan for our economy, and now it is apparent that he has no foreign policy either, which is now going to kill any positive consumer sentiment that the media machine had created.

Mar 10, 2011 4:23PM

Wisconsin's Democratic lawmakers went to Illinois to hide out.  Maybe those in Washington can go hide in ...........  OK, all of you out there can fill in the blank.

Mar 10, 2011 2:58PM
Before the crash half of Americans made less than $32,000 a year now half of Americans make less than $26,500 a year. Things are 20 percent worse than they were before.

Its worse then that: Over the past decade, wages haven't even kept pace with inflation.


As such, consumer spending is dropping, which is bad considering consumer spending is 70% of our economy.  Worse, the top 5%, which is the direct recepient of the wealth transfer, is being taxed less and less.  So the people who are getting the largest increase in wealth is also hte group getting the biggest tax wonder we're broke; we're taxing less money!

Mar 10, 2011 3:35PM
it's amazing how we claim to be the most powerfull country in the world still a country with 6 million poeple like Libya can bring us to our knees with fear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mar 10, 2011 4:29PM

"In Soc -- you will never see WWIII with obama in charge for he fears his own shadow much less that of the military." -LairdN


I really wish that were the case, but the reality is the President does not run this nation. Just to reiterate, I nor my information resources are not making any direct prediction about WWIII. I have merely stated that if oil supply from Saudi Arabia becomes disrupted WWIII becomes more of a reality. One only needs to know about history to understand why.


Mar 10, 2011 3:21PM



Those nmbers are from the DOL Birth/Death ratio projections and are just numbers pulled out some statisticians azz.  They are projections based the number of people born, the numb er who have died and then a projection is made on WHAT should be.  If we had 940,000 jobs created a month since 2009 there would be minimal unemployment.  Where are these companies who are hiring? The numbers aren't showing up in ADP reports and if this many jobs were created the Federal government would be rolling in tax money even with the tax cuts.

We have lost 2.2 million jobs since 2009 and unemployment numbers are down because folks who have dropped off the rolls are no longer counted.   We migth have created 192,000 jobs total since 2009 and if so most of those were in the federal government.

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