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For Oil Drillers And Retirement Savers, This Is Not A Good Day

Trader Gregory Rowe works at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, as U.S. markets were getting hit with panicky selling.
Mark Lennihan

This day is starting out really nasty if you happen to be an oil driller — or a baby boomer who would like to retire with a nest egg.

Through the night and into the morning, the price of oil has been falling. You can now buy a barrel for less than $30. (Remember, it was nearly $115 as recently as June 2014.) The market for oil has been thrown into disarray because of worries about possible declining Chinese demand and surging Iranian supplies.

That means U.S. oil producers will continue to see their profits plunge and industry layoffs worsen.

The stock market also is getting hit with panicky selling, causing share prices to drop an additional 2 percent in the opening hour. At 10:30 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was hovering around 16,040. It's down about 8 percent so far this year.

At this point, the Dow appears to be on track to close Friday down more than 10 percent from its November closing high of 17,918.15.

The U.S. selloff is part of a global rout for stocks.

The Wall Street Journal's latest survey of economists found that forecasters now believe there is a 17 percent likelihood the United States will enter a recession in 2016. That's the highest percentage in three years.

Still, it means economists think it's overwhelmingly likely that we will not see a recession. The current market volatility may smooth out if signs emerge that China is stabilizing and that U.S. consumers are ready for a spring shopping spree.

For now, the stock beat down likely will continue because U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Wall Street traders get more nervous when other global markets are open but they can't sell their shares.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marilyn Geewax is a contributor to NPR.
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