Stocks slide after Iranain top military leader killed by US

Stocks curbed heavy losses but end session lower.

The specter of a potential armed conflict with Iran loomed over the stock market Friday which closed with triple-digit losses but off the worst levels of the session.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average, trimmed a loss of over 300 points, to finish the session at 235.07 or 0.8 percent. The Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 slipped around 0.7 percent.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES30218.26+248.74+0.83%
SP500S&P 5003699.12+32.40+0.88%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX12464.232074+87.05+0.70%

Oil, traditionally the most volatile commodity in times of Mideast tensions, saw upticks most of Friday. West Texas Intermediate crude closed up 3.1 percent at $63.05 a barrel. The global benchmark, March Brent crude saw similar gains with a rise of 3.6 percent and a close at $68.60 per barrel.

Energy stocks, which opened higher as a group, ended the session mixed.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
XOMEXXON MOBIL CORPORATION41.68+1.47+3.66%
CVXCHEVRON CORP.93.28+3.48+3.88%
MROMARATHON OIL6.85+0.66+10.66%
HALHALLIBURTON COMPANY19.43+1.41+7.82%

It was not all bleak on the exchanges as shares of defense contractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin were up more than 5 percent and 4 percent respectively after the team at Citigroup noted that rising tensions in the region could validate the need for a bigger defense budget.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
NOCNORTHROP GRUMMAN CORPORATION306.97+3.80+1.25%
LMTLOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION366.61+4.58+1.27%

As has happened in the past, investors made a flight to safety amidst rising tension, abandoning anything seen as a risky asset for long-standing safe havens, such as gold and U.S. Treasuries. The yield on the 10-Year slipped to 1.792 percent.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
GLDSPDR GOLD SHARES TRUST - EUR ACC172.32-0.49-0.28%

In other corporate news, Tesla shares rose to a record after reporting that deliveries exceeded expectations.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
TSLATESLA INC.599.04+5.66+0.95%

While concern about the Mideast remained paramount, other factors were at play for the market downturn. Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting were released. While the minutes revealed a sense of optimism regarding the economy and ease in U.S.-China trade tensions, but there were also concerns about slow growth.

To that end, Friday also saw worse-than-expected U.S. manufacturing data. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 47.2 percent, its lowest number in more than 10 years.