Wall St. pummeled despite Fed printing; oil 108, Blackstone reveals a loss

NEW YORK, March 10, 2008 (AFP) – US stocks sustained a fresh beating Monday as oil prices briefly rocketed to fresh highs above 108 dollars a barrel and as The Blackstone Group private equity firm announced a big quarterly loss. Financial stocks fell heavily through the day in the wake of Blackstone’s revelation and as a source said the Lehman Brothers investment bank was poised to unveil fresh layoffs.

The leading blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down a sharp 153.54 points (1.29 percent) at 11,740.15 at the closing bell, marking its lowest closing depths since October 2006.

The index is down more than 11 percent for the year to date.

The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite tumbled by a more substantial 43.15 points (1.95 percent) to 2,169.34 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 broad-market index finished 20.00 points (1.55 percent) lower at 1,273.37.

All three markets had also sustained losses on Friday amid simmering fears that the US economy, weighed down by a housing slump, a credit squeeze and mounting job losses, is sliding into a recession.

“Wall Street is clearly nervous. More bad news on spreading problems in the credit markets combined with growing evidence of a slowing economy has sent mark