Stocks slump again as oil prices continue slide

A turbulent week of trading ended Friday with U.S. stocks finishing lower for the third time in five days.

A slide in oil prices deepened, stoking concerns about global economic growth. Energy stocks tumbled, extending their losses for the year. Investors also were discouraged by weak U.S. wage growth in December, despite another strong increase in hiring.

“We finally got the jobs growing,” said Erik Davidson, deputy chief investment officer of Wells Fargo Private Bank. “Now people are looking through that at the actual wage growth numbers and they want to see improvement on wages, which obviously would spur demand and consumer confidence.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed 17.33 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,044.81. The index is now down 0.7 percent for the year. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 170.50 points, or about 1 percent, to 17,737.37. The Dow has fallen 0.5 percent this year. The Nasdaq composite lost 32.12 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,704.07. It’s down 0.7 percent this year.

Two senior officials say U.S. didn’t hack North Korea

The U.S. government was not responsible for crippling North Korea’s Internet infrastructure after President Barack Obama blamed the country for hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., two senior U.S. officials told The Associated Press, as Congress announced Friday it will examine North Korea’s cyberthreats starting next week.

The Obama administration has steadfastly blamed North Korea for hacking Sony but has been deliberately coy about whether it retaliated and caused North Korea’s outage, which affected all the nation’s Internet connections starting the weekend of Dec. 20. The two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to openly discuss the issue, acknowledged to the AP that it was not a U.S. operation.

JC Penny says store closures will cost around $38 million

JC Penney Co. says the closure of about 40 of its stores will cost around $38 million.

The department store chain said it will book pre-tax charges of $21 million in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2014, and another $17 million will be incurred later.

The company will cut about 2,250 jobs as it tries to improve its profitability. Earlier this week it started notifying workers at stores slated to be closed. Penney expects to complete most the store closures by April. A year ago, it announced plans to close 33 stores and cut about 2,000 jobs. The company, based in Plano, Texas, has about 1,060 stores.

– From news service reports