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Stocks Tumble Ahead of Close; Energy Sinks
05 May 2011 EDT - CNBC.com
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Earlier, as oil prices tumbled to less than $100 a barrel, retail stocks gained, a relationship that Jim Paulsen, Chief Investment Strategist at Wells Capital Management doesn't think is coincidental.

"Oil prices historically have been a huge determinant for the direction of consumer discretionary stocks, relative to the market," Paulsen said.

Retail stocks could do even better if job growth rebounds, he added. In fact, the slowly strenghtening job market has lent support to consumer discretionary stocks, which would have been hurt more by the rising price of crude oil since the fall, Paulsen said.

"What I’m thinking about now is if crude is coming off its highs, and you have job creation, that’s a pretty powerful combination," he said.

Oil pricesfell sharply after the market settled as the CME raised price limits on crude oil, heating oil and RBOB futures until 5:15 p.m today, according to a CME spokesperson. Oil slid throughout Thursday's session amid concern about a reduction in demand, given high gas prices, and rising interest rates.

U.S. light crude settled at $99.80 after falling $9.44 or 8.6 percent. London Brent crudefell nearly 9 percent to below $111.

Energy stocks sank for the fourth straight session. In addition to the oil giants, Murphy Oil , Suncor Energy and Total tumbled.

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