Stocks Fell for Fourth Straight Day

U.S. stocks fell for the fourth day in a row on Thursday as concerns about global economic weakness intensified. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 254.56 points, or 1.60%, to 15,660.18. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 22.78 points, or 1.23%, to 1,829.08. The Nasdaq composite fell 16.75 points, or 0.39%, to 4,266.84.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen returned to Congress with a brave face on Thursday. Testifying for a second straight day before lawmakers, Yellen repeatedly stressed that the Fed is not on a “pre-set path” even though, for now, she still expects it to gradually raise interest rates this year, given the strong U.S. labor market and other bright spots in the economy.

Two big technology companies this week provided more evidence that the global economy is slowing and possibly even headed toward a recession. Executives at Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Nokia (NOK), as they reported their most recent quarterly results, both warned of a major slowdown in orders from their corporate customers around the world.

Oil futures settled at their lowest level in almost 13 years Thursday. March West Texas Intermediate crude lost $1.24, or 4.5%, to settle at $26.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

FireEye Inc. closed out a year that saw it lose about half its market capitalization with a slight fourth-quarter earnings beat. FireEye reported a fourth-quarter loss of $135.15 million, or 87 cents a share, on sales of $184.77 million.

American International Group Inc. (AIG) late Thursday reported it swung to a fourth-quarter operating loss of $1.3 billion, or $1.10 a share, from an operating income of $1.4 billion, or 97 cents a share, in the year ago period.

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