Wall Street pulls back over Iran worries

In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 47.97, or 0.37%, to 12,752.21.

STOCKS TEL AVIV Israeli stocks dropped to the lowest in six weeks, led by Israel Corp. and Oil Refineries Ltd. The Tel Aviv-25 Index lost 1.12, or 0.1 percent, to 1,176.61 as 15 members declined, eight gained and two were unchanged. Investors traded about NIS 2.34 billion in shares and convertible securities. Israel Corp., the holding company with stakes in chemicals and shipping, retreated NIS 85, or 2.1%, to 4,063. Oil Refineries, the country's biggest petroleum processor, fell NIS 0.08, or 2.2%, to 3.62. Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. added NIS 0.01, or 1.5%, to 0.75. The biopharmaceutical company received US Food and Drug Administration approval to conduct the first trial stage for a liver-cancer treatment. Industrial Buildings Corp. increased NIS 0.12, or 1.4%, to 9.26. The real-estate company controlled by developer Eliezer Fishman agreed to buy property in India for as much as $84 million along with two partners. WALL STREET Wall Street pulled back Monday morning after the Bush administration warned Iran following an incident involving that country's forces and three US Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz. Stocks, which had opened higher amid speculation about future interest rate cuts, turned lower after reports of the administration's comments appeared on news services . In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 47.97, or 0.37%, to 12,752.21. Broader stock indicators also tumbled. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 5.31, or 0.38%, to 1,406.32, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index fell 23.04, or 0.92%, to 2,481.61. EUROPE European stocks dropped for a fourth day, their longest losing streak since July, led by financial companies, retailers and metal producers on concern credit-market losses and slowing economic growth will curb earnings. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slumped 0.2% to 351.27, the lowest since November 21. Almost three stocks fell for every one that rose. National benchmarks slipped in 12 of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 dropped 12.8, or 0.2%, to 6,335.7. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX added 0.1% each. The Stoxx 50 increased 0.4%, while the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, advanced 0.3%. ASIA Asian stocks fell for a third day, paced by Samsung Electronics and BHP Billiton, as a slowdown in US hiring reinforced concern the world's biggest economy will sink into recession. Samsung, South Korea's largest exporter, dropped the most in six weeks on speculation US spending will slow and after CJ Investment & Securities cut its forecast for the company's earnings. BHP led miners lower after metals prices retreated. Singapore Airlines, bidding for a stake in a Chinese carrier, fell to its lowest in 10 months after a rival pledged to make a higher offer. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 2.2% to 152.63 Monday evening in Tokyo, bringing this year's decline to 3.3%. About five stocks retreated for each that gained on the benchmark, which was headed for its biggest one-day drop since December 17. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average sank 1.3% to 14,500.55, extending a plunge of 4% on January 4, its first trading day of the year. The broader Topix index dropped 1.4% to close below 1,400 for the first time since October 2005. Japanese exporters also declined Monday after the yen climbed against the dollar. Benchmarks fell in other markets open for trading, except China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. CURRENCIES The shekel traded at 3.8239 to the dollar, from 3.8180 on January 4, near a 10-year high. It rose more than 9% last year, the most in at least 25 years. An increase in the shekel's value against the dollar helps contain inflation because dollar-linked housing and import prices are the biggest component of the country's consumer price index. The dollar rose for the first time this year versus the yen and gained against the euro on speculation global growth may withstand a slowing US economy. The US currency gained the most in more than two weeks against the yen, rebounding from a decline triggered by a weaker-than-forecast US jobs report on January 4. The yen fell against 11 of the 16 most traded currencies. The dollar advanced as much as 1.1% to 109.73 yen, from 108.60 on January 4, and reached 109.04 at 2:46 p.m. in New York. It climbed to $1.4694 per euro from $1.4743. The dollar will reach $1.40 per euro and 108 yen by the end of the year, according to the median forecast of 43 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. COMMODITIES Crude oil fell more than $2 a barrel, the most since November, on expectations demand will drop because of slowing economies in the US and Europe and as warm weather crimped fuel use in the Northeast. Energy prices led the decline in commodities after an index of executive and consumer sentiment in countries using the euro slipped to the lowest since March 2006. Crude oil for February delivery fell $2.81, or 2.9%, to $95.10 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil was heading for the biggest drop since November 28. Futures reached a record $100.09 a barrel on January 3. Prices are up 69% from a year ago. Gold futures fell in New York after the dollar rallied and energy costs declined, reducing the appeal of the precious metal as a hedge against inflation. Silver also declined. Gold gained 31% last year, while oil jumped 57% and the dollar fell 9.5% against the euro. Gold futures for February delivery fell $3.70, or 0.4%, to $862 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures climbed to $872.90 on January 3, the highest for a most-active contract since January 21, 1980, the day the price reached a record $873. Silver futures for March delivery dropped 17.2 cents, or 1.1%, to $15.29 an ounce. The metal gained 15% last year.