US stocks fall on inflation data, lower oil

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New York (AFP)

Wall Street stocks fell early Friday as oil prices retreated and US inflation data boosted the odds of another Federal Reserve interest rate hike this year.

About 30 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 16,329.81, down 83.62 points (0.51 percent).

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 9.75 (0.51 percent) to 1,908.08, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 10.56 (0.24 percent) to 4,476.98.

US oil prices fell to $29.64 a barrel in New York amid continuing doubts that the tentative Russia-Saudi deal to freeze output will reduce the crude glut anytime soon.

Labor Department data showed flat US consumer prices in January, but a pickup of 0.3 percent in core inflation when volatile food and energy prices were stripped out.

Analysts said the numbers, stronger than expected, added support to the Federal Reserve's track for slowly tightening monetary policy this year, even as other major central banks cut rates to stimulate growth.

Yahoo climbed 1.9 percent as it announced it named a committee to study the company's "strategic alternatives," moving a step closer toward a breakup or sale of the troubled Internet pioneer.

Petroleum-linked shares were down, with ConocoPhillips dropping 2.7 percent and Dow member Chevron off 1.1 percent.

Agricultural equipment company Deere fell 2.9 percent as it projected a decline of 10 percent in equipment sales in 2016 after reporting a 34.2 percent fall in first-quarter earnings to $254.4 million.

The results "reflected the continuing impact of the downturn in the global farm economy as well as weakness in construction equipment markets," said Deere chief executive Samuel Allen.

Upscale department store Nordstrom tumbled 10.6 percent after reporting a 29.4 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings to $180 million following a lackluster holiday shopping season.

Other department stores followed suit, including Macy's, down 4.9 percent, and Kohl's, down 2.5 percent.

Applied Materials, which provides materials engineering for semiconductors and electronic devices, jumped 7.2 percent after reporting earnings that bested expectations and offering a positive outlook.