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Dow tumbles as oil prices soar to new highs

US stock markets fell heavily in early afternoon trading on Friday after crude oil prices rocketed by almost 10 dollars a barrel to briefly break the 137 dollar barrier for the first time.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had slumped a hefty 272.76 points (2.16 percent) to 12,331.69 and the tech-dominated Nasdaq composite had dived 46.48 points (1.82 percent) to 2,503.46 at 1736 GMT.

The broad-market Standard & Poor’s 500 index retreated 25.62 points (1.82 percent) to 1,378.43.

Traders said a sharp spike in oil prices had added to Wall Street’s earlier losses. Stocks had been weighed down in earlier trading as a government survey revealed a sharp jump in unemployment.

Wall Street’s losses deepened as a key New York oil futures contract rocketed 9.91 dollars to a record 137.70 dollars per barrel before retreating somewhat.