Oil, economy are hot topics on Wall Street

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- When will oil prices fall? For investors holding energy stocks, there's no rush. But with the third-quarter gross domestic product report coming out this week, the rest of Wall Street would prefer sooner rather than later.

Crude oil futures have remained over $50 per barrel for most of October, with no signs of falling back any time soon.

For the economy as a whole, oil prices have already cut into consumer spending as well as corporate profits, and it's become difficult for companies to raise prices to cover higher energy costs when consumers don't have the means to pay them.

On Friday, the Commerce Department will issue its advance GDP report for the third quarter, which saw prices rise from about $36 per barrel to $50. Should that number come in lower than economists expect, the impact of oil prices on the economy will be readily apparent -- and won't bode well for the current quarter, either.


Last week, a mix of earnings reports and the continued surge in oil prices kept stocks down, as many investors held off on large bets until the effects of oil could be seen in GDP figures.

The upcoming presidential election also kept many investors out of the market until a winner could be chosen, if not predicted.

On the bright side, strong earnings in the technology sector helped the Nasdaq composite index to a small gain for the week.

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial average lost 1.77 percent, and the Standard &; Poor's 500 dropped 1.12 percent, while the Nasdaq gained 0.19 percent.

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