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Oil pulls back from highs, but stocks' slide deepens

February 22, 2011 | 11:01 am

Oil prices pulled back from their highs on Tuesday, but in the stock market selling accelerated after an early bounce.

Although the situation in Libya remained dire, near-term crude oil futures in New York were trading at $92.16 a barrel at about 11 a.m. PST, down from a high of $94.49 earlier in the session.

The price had surged $5.22, or 6%, to $91.42 a barrel in electronic trading on Monday, when most U.S. markets were closed in observance of Presidents Day.

Crude prices also pulled back in London, where Brent oil slipped to $106.11 a barrel after reaching $108.57 late Monday.

On Wall Street, where major stock indexes ended last week at multiyear highs, shares fell at the opening bell, quickly recouped most of the early loss, then slid again.

The Dow Jones industrial average was off 177 points, or 1.4%, to 12,213 at about 11 a.m. PST.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 2% while the Russell 2,000 small-stock index was off 2.3%.

Transportation stocks, including airlines, were hammered on fears over soaring fuel costs. The Dow transports index was down 3%. But major oil stocks rallied, with Chevron up $1.61 to $100.33 and Exxon Mobil adding 76 cents to $85.26.

Investors were taking down some of the market's highest fliers, including Apple Inc., which was off $10, or 2.8%, to $340.57.

-- Tom Petruno