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U.S. stock futures sink, gold rockets as markets reopen

August 7, 2011 |  4:05 pm

U.S. stock index futures plunged in Asian trading Sunday, signaling what may happen when shares open for trading in New York on Monday, as investors reacted to the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and fresh worries about Europe’s government debt crisis.

Fears of a deep sell-off in financial markets also drove gold to a record high in electronic futures trading in New York.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index were trading at 1,168 at about 4 p.m. PDT, a drop of 2.6% from Friday’s closing index value of 1,199.38.

The S&P had plummeted 7.2% last week as fears mushroomed over the outlook for the economy and financial system.

Gold futures jumped as high as $1,697 an ounce Sunday, a new high, then fell back to about $1,692.20, up $43.40, or 2.6% from Friday.

In other commodity trading, U.S. oil futures dived to $83.83 a barrel, down 3.5% from Friday’s close and the lowest since November.

In currency trading, the dollar fell against many of its major rivals, although the declines were relatively modest. The DXY index of the dollar’s value against six other major currencies, including the euro and the yen, fell 0.2% from Friday. The index had risen 1% last week.

The euro was at $1.431, up slightly from $1.428 on Friday, after the European Central Bank on Sunday pledged to buy euro-zone governments’ bonds in an attempt to avert panic selling.


S&P downgrades U.S. credit rating

What the U.S. downgrade may mean for markets

Memories of the stock market crash leave investors on edge

Geithner says he will stay on as Treasury secretary into 2012

-- Tom Petruno