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Oil and gas companies lead an early decline in stocks

NEW YORK — Stocks were solidly lower in early trading Monday, as the price of oil took another tumble amid renewed concerns about the Chinese and U.S. economies.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 96 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,369 as of 10:13 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,928 and the Nasdaq composite lost 24 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,589.

OIL PROBLEMS: Crude oil went lower again after posting solid gains last week. Oil fell $1.22 to $32.37 a barrel. Natural gas took an even steeper tumble, falling more than 6 percent.

Energy stocks fell in tandem with oil and gas prices, and the energy component of the S&P 500 lost 2.3 percent. Southwestern Energy declined 60 cents, or 7 percent, to $8.28, Transocean dropped $60 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $9.81 and Chesapeake Energy fell 12 cents, or 4 percent, to $3.27.

CHINA MANUFACTURING: Global stocks and oil prices started to decline after a Chinese factory purchasing manager survey fell to 49.4 in January, the lowest level in more than three years. It’s the latest sign of weakness for the world’s second-largest economy. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction. Chinese stocks closed down 2 percent on the news.

THE QUOTE: “There are precious few indicators that point to a recovery within China and this continues to spell bad news for the global economy which has been hugely reliant upon Chinese demand to help compensate for weak western demand post-2007,” said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG.

FACTORY WORRIES: The economic data out of the U.S. did not help investor sentiment either. A survey of manufacturing activity in the U.S. came in at 48.2, below economists’ analysts.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.95 percent. The dollar fell to 120.92 yen from 121.10 yen on Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.0897 from $1.0829.

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