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Oil Prices Surge, Stocks Slip After Death of Iranian General 

FILE - Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
FILE - Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street and oil prices surged Friday after a U.S military strike killed a top Iranian general in Iraq.

The killing rattled global markets and knocked U.S. stock indexes off their recent all-time highs. The selling also put the benchmark S&P 500 index on track to snap a five-week winning streak.

Financial stocks were among the biggest decliners as investors bought up U.S. government bonds, sending their yields lower. Technology stocks, health care companies and airlines also took heavy losses.

Several energy stocks rose as the price of U.S. oil headed higher. Defense contractors also notched gains.

Benchmark U.S. crude climbed $1.87, or 3.1%, to settle at $63.05 per barrel. It had been up 3.6% earlier in the day. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose $2.35, or 3.5%, to close at $68.60 per barrel.

The selling followed a broad decline in markets overseas following news that General Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds Force, was killed in an air attack at Baghdad International Airport early Friday.

President Donald Trump said the attack was ordered because Soleimani was plotting to kill many Americans. The strike marked a major escalation in the conflict between Washington and Iran, as Iran vowed ``harsh retaliation`` for the killing of the senior military leader.

Gold on the rise

The price of gold, which investors buy in times of uncertainty as a safe haven of value, rose $24.70, or 1.6%, to $1,549.20 per ounce.

The S&P 500 was down 0.6% at midafternoon. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 222 points, or 0.8%, to 28,645. The index briefly dropped 368 points.

The Nasdaq dropped 0.7% and the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks gave up 0.4%.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.79% from 1.88% late Thursday, a big move. Lower bond yields bring down the interest rates that banks charge for mortgages and other consumer loans, making them less profitable. That prompted a sell-off in bank shares. JPMorgan slid 1.1%, Bank of America dropped 2% and Citigroup lost 1.6%.

Airlines slumped as oil prices rose. American Airlines Group dropped 4.5%, United Airlines Holdings slid 1.9% and Delta Air Lines lost 1.8%.

Heightened tensions with Iran helped lift the stocks of defense contractors. Northrop Grumman climbed 5.4% Raytheon rose 1.6% and Lockheed Martin gained 3.5%.

Energy companies made gains as oil prices surged over concerns that a U.S.-Iran conflict could disrupt global supplies. Occidental Petroleum rose 2.2% and Hess gained 2.6%.