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Stocks tumble as the dollar continues to strengthen

March 13, 2015, 7:46 PM UTC
Market Rebounds After 2 Days Of Declines
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 12, 2015 in New York City. Wall Street halted a two-day slide with stocks rallying Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 260 points, or 1.5%, to 17,895. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photogrpah by Spencer Platt — Getty Images

Stocks took another beating Friday.

The S&P 500 index saw its third straight weekly decline as the dollar resumed its climb and lower oil prices hit energy shares.

The rise in the U.S. dollar index, which saw its fourth straight weekly gain, added to worries about the currency’s impact on U.S. multinationals’ earnings.

The Dow closed the day down 146 points, or 0.8%, but off its earlier lows having fallen as much as 265 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 lost 13 points, or 0.6%, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 22 points, or 0.4%.

The dollar hit a fresh 12-year high against the euro on Friday as dollar-buying momentum overcame soft U.S. economic data that would normally weaken it.

The S&P energy index fell 1% and was among the biggest decliners of the 10 primary S&P 500 sectors.

Crude oil fell 4.7% to settle at $44.84 a barrel after the International Energy Agency said a global glut continued to build and U.S. oil production showed no signs of slowing. The commodity has fallen in six of the past seven sessions and is down almost 60% from a June peak.

Investors are focused on next week’s Federal Reserve meeting, which could provide further insight into when the first rate increase will come.

Over the past 14 sessions, the S&P has had a correlation of -0.96 to the dollar index, meaning that stocks consistently fall on days when the dollar gains. Perfect inverse correlation is -1.0.

“The stronger dollar, the continued hammering of the euro, equals continued lower equity prices ahead of the Fed comments next week,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
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“We’ll know more of the Fed’s thinking on Wednesday, but right now most people are expecting a rate hike to come in June and the equity markets not to be very receptive of that.”

While the trend has been mostly lower, the market has been volatile. This week The S&P posted both its biggest one-day gain since February and its biggest one-day loss since January.

—Reuters contributed to this report.