By STAN CHOE
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks around the world steadied on Tuesday, and gold and crude oil prices took a pause from their recent run as investors wait for the next step in the increasingly tense U.S.-Iran confrontation.
Benchmark U.S. crude was heading for its first drop since before the United States killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike on Friday, a move that threatened to disrupt oil supplies in the Middle East and caused prices to spurt higher for days. The potential for war also sent dollars flowing out of risky investments like stocks and into gold and other safer harbors.
Asian and European stock markets clawed back some of their losses from Monday, while U.S. indexes were mixed. Nearly two-thirds of the stocks in the S&P 500 fell, and oil companies had some of the biggest declines after weaker crude prices dragged down Exxon Mobil, Chevron and others in the industry. That helped offset modest gains for raw-material producers and technology stocks.
Gold was holding steady a day after touching its highest price in nearly seven years, and Treasury yields were also little changed.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was down 0.1% as of 11:05 a.m. Eastern time.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 34 points, or 0.1%, to 28,668, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 %.
MARKETS ABROAD: Asian markets had some of the day’s strongest gains and clawed back much of their sharp losses from Monday.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.6%, South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.9% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.3%.
In Europe, Germany’s Dax returned 0. 7 %, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.1% and the FTSE 100 in London was virtually flat.
TAKE A BREATH: Gold slowed its momentum and rose a modest 90 cents to $1,569.70 per ounce. It had climbed more than $16 each of the last two days as investors piled into what they thought could hold steady even if a war broke out in the Middle East.
U.S. officials were preparing for an Iranian response to their drone strike against Soleimani and warned ships about the possibility of action against U.S. interests in Mideast waterways or other retaliations.
DRILLED: Benchmark U.S. crude gave up some of its big gains made in recent days on worries about supplies. It dropped 68 cents to $62.59 per barrel. It had jumped more than $2 per barrel over the last two days.
Brent crude, the international standard, fell 75 cents to $68.16 per barrel.
That helped put at least a temporary halt to the recent rise for energy stocks. Chevron fell 1.7%, Exxon Mobil lost 1.3% and Schlumberger fell 1.4 %.
EXCEPTION: Apache was an outlier, and the oil and gas producer surged 23.3% for the biggest gain in the S&P 50 after it and Total said they found a significant amount of oil off the coast of Suriname.
YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 1.81%.
ECONOMIC SIGNS: A pair of reports showed that U.S. manufacturing continues to wane, but not by enough to drag down the rest of the economy.
Manufacturing has been weak in the country and around the world, hurt by tariffs and trade wars, and a U.S. Commerce Department report showed that factory orders fell 0.7% in November from a month earlier. It was the third drop in the last four months.
But even with that weakness, the solid U.S. jobs market and spending by households have helped prop up the rest of the economy. A separate report released Tuesday morning showed that the nation’s services industries grew at a faster pace last month than economists expected. The reading includes activity in the retail, health care and other industries.
AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.
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