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U.S. stocks down as investors seek safe havens; gold surges

Edward McCarthy works on the floor of

Edward McCarthy works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 4, 2017.  Credit: AP / Richard Drew

U.S. stocks ended lower but recovered from a deep dive Tuesday, led by declines in banks and technology companies. Bond yields fell and the price of gold rose as investors monitored heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea. Oil prices recovered after an early slide.

ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 3.4 points, about 0.1 percent, at 2,353.8. The Dow Jones industrial average was off 6.7 points, about 0.03 percent, to 20,651.3. It lost more than 100 points during the day. The Nasdaq composite gave up 14.2 points, about 0.2 percent, to close at 5,866.8.

BOND PRICES: Bond prices rose. As markets closed, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.298 percent. It opened at 2.31 percent.

OIL PRICES: As markets closed, U.S. benchmark crude oil was flat, up 5 cents at $53.13 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London on the Intercontinental Exchange Europe, Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, was up 31 cents at $56.29 a barrel.

GOLD: The precious metal, which is often sought out by investors as a safe haven in times of global uncertainty, was up $22.20 as markets closed, about 1.77 percent, at $1,276.10 an ounce.

TAKE OFF, EH! United Airlines Continental Holdings closed down 81 cents at $70.71 a share as investors and consumers worldwide condemned the company’s rough handling and humiliation of a passenger it forcibly bumped to make room for traveling United crew members. A couple of videos of the semiconscious man being yanked off the plane at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport have gone viral on social media. In China, the world’s fastest growing travel market, video of the incident on Weibo, a microblogging service like Twitter, had been viewed 210 million times by Tuesday evening. The passenger, who has not been identified by authorities, appears to be Asian.

KOREAS, RUSSIA: North Korea said there could be “catastrophic consequences” after the United States ordered the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula. Nerves were already on edge with U.S.-South Korea war games underway, and recent ballistic missile launches by the North that have rattled neighboring countries. The G-7 powers, meanwhile, want to put more pressure on Russia to stop backing the Syrian government, which they blame for a deadly chemical attack last week. Britain is open to more sanctions but some others from the group, which also includes the U.S., Japan and major European economies, want a softer approach.

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