Stocks Opened Sharply Lower amid Geopolitical Worries

U.S. stocks opened sharply lower on Wednesday, with the Dow industrials dropping more than 250 points after the opening bell, weighed by fresh geopolitical worries from news out of North Korea. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately dropped 199.21 points, or 1.16%, to 16,959.45. The S&P 500 declined 22.62 points, or 1.12%, to 1,994.09. The Nasdaq Composite fell 52.12 points, or 1.07%, to 4,839.31.

Soon after the ground shook around its nuclear testing facility, North Korea trumpeted its first hydrogen bomb test — a powerful, self- proclaimed “H-bomb of justice” that would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

U.S. private companies added workers at a brisk clip in December, pointing to underlying strength in the economy despite signs that growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter. Payrolls processor ADP said private-sector employment rose by 257,000 last month, the largest gain since December 2014, after increasing by 211,000 in November.

Other data on Wednesday showed the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in November likely as efforts by businesses to reduce an inventory overhang pushed imports of goods to their lowest level in nearly five years, outpacing a drop in exports. The Commerce Department said the trade deficit fell 5.0 percent to $42.4 billion in November.

Oil prices slid more than 4 percent to new 11-year lows on Wednesday as the row between Saudi Arabia and Iran made any cooperation between major exporters to cut output even more unlikely. Benchmark Brent crude futures were at $35.07 a barrel at 1318 GMT, down $1.58 on the day, and reached their lowest since early July 2004.

T-Mobile US Inc added more postpaid subscribers in 2015 than it had projected as its lower-priced plans helped attract monthly users away from competitors. For the year ended Dec. 31, T-Mobile on a net basis added 4.5 million branded postpaid customers, beating its forecast of 3.8-4.2 million.

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