Stocks Settle Sharply Lower; Oil Keeps Climbing

Stocks extended their losses on Wednesday, after the 10-year Treasury yield topped 3% once again, igniting economic growth concerns amid the Federal Reserve's plans to tighten its monetary policy. The Dow shed 269 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq settled deep in the red as well. Nevertheless, the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) logged its lowest close since April 21, even as traders brace for May's consumer price index (CPI) reading on Friday, which could determine the Fed's next moves.

The Dow Jones Average (DJI -32,910.90dropped 269.2 points, or 0.8%, for the day. Caterpillar (CAT) added 1.2%, leading the gainers. Intel (INTC), meanwhile, paced the laggards with a 5.3% drop.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 4,115.77) shed 44.9 points, or 1.1% for the day. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC - 12,086.27) lost 89 points, or 0.7% for the session.

Lastly, the Cboe Market Volatility Index (VIX - 23.96) fell 0.06 point, or 0.3% for the day.

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OIL PRICES SETTLE ABOVE $120 LEVEL

Oil prices were higher on Wednesday, settling above the $120 mark to hit their highest level in three months. This surge came after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported U.S. crude inventories in the U.S. fell by 2 million barrels last week. In addition, a potential offshore oil worker strike in Norway -- one of Europe's key oil and gas producers -- boosted the commodity. July-dated crude added $2.70, or 2.3%, to settle at $122.11 per barrel.

Gold prices also finished higher, brushing off strength in the U.S. dollar, as well as rising bond yields. Investors are still eyeing Friday's inflation data, however. August-dated gold rose 0.2%, or $4.40, to settle at $1,856.50 an ounce. 

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