NEW YORK -- Stocks plunged yesterday, sending the Dow Jones industrials down 166 points as oil prices briefly moved past the psychologically important $60 per barrel level for the first time. Oil's advance accelerated a sell-off prompted by poor earnings from FedEx Corp. -- which blamed high fuel prices for its disappointing profits.
FedEx's earnings missed Wall Street's expectations and raised new concerns about oil's impact on corporate profits. That led crude oil futures to creep higher through the day, breaking through the $60-per-barrel barrier. While purely psychological, that move was enough to send stocks tumbling.
A barrel of light crude settled at $59.42, up $1.33, on the New York Mercantile Exchange after peaking at $60.05, an intraday record.
The Dow fell 166.49 to 10,421.44. Broader stock indicators also lost substantial ground. The Nasdaq Composite index dropped 21.37 to 2,070.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 13.15 to 1,200.73.
The surge in oil prices has kept the market from building on last week's gains and deepened investors' concerns over whether the May-June rally stocks have enjoyed would ultimately be curtailed. Some investors also kept to the sidelines ahead of the Fed's decision on interest rates next Thursday and the usual end-of-quarter volatility expected next week.
Profits at FedEx rose 9 percent in the latest quarter, but rising jet fuel costs and the expense of adding a new round-the-world flight route led the shipping company to miss Wall Street's profit expectations by 2 cents per share. FedEx tumbled $7.35 to $80.77.
Other transportation stocks fared poorly as well, with rival shipper UPS Inc. losing $1.32 to $68.91 and trucking company Yellow Roadway Corp. shedding $1.51 to $48.50.