Oil prices surge, stocks fall after US kills Iranian general

In this Dec. 11, 2019, file photo trader Michael Urkonis, left, and specialist Anthony Matesic work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. 

Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street and oil prices surged Friday after a U.S. military strike killed a top Iranian general in Iraq.

The killing rattled global markets and knocked U.S. stock indexes off their recent all-time highs. The selling also put the benchmark S&P 500 index on track to snap a five-week winning streak.

Financial stocks were among the biggest decliners as investors bought up U.S. government bonds, sending their yields lower. Technology stocks, health care companies and airlines also took heavy losses.

Several energy stocks rose as the price of U.S. oil headed higher. Defense contractors also notched gains.

Benchmark U.S. crude climbed $1.87, or 3.1%, to settle at $63.05 per barrel. It had been up 3.6% earlier in the day. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose $2.35, or 3.5%, to close at $68.60 per barrel.

The selling followed a broad decline in markets overseas after news that Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed in an air attack at the Baghdad international airport early Friday.

President Donald Trump said the attack was ordered because Soleimani was plotting to kill many Americans. The strike marks a major escalation in the conflict between Washington and Iran, as Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” for the killing of the senior military leader.

The price of gold, which investors buy in times of uncertainty as a safe haven of value, rose $24.70, or 1.6%, to $1,549.20 per ounce.

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