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 AVERAGES21052.53-360.91-1.69%
SP500S&P 5002488.65-38.25-1.51%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX7373.08309-114.23-1.53%

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 CORPORATION39.21-1.19-2.95%
CVXCHEVRON CORP.75.11-1.01-1.33%
MROMARATHON OIL3.65+0.18+5.19%
HALHALLIBURTON COMPANY7.61+0.09+1.20%

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 CORPORATION313.61-0.68-0.22%
LMTLOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION350.50-3.46-0.98%

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 ACC152.65+0.75+0.49%

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

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
TSLATESLA INC.480.01+25.54+5.62%

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.