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Wall Street tumbles on chip stocks, commodities soften after wild ride

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks fell on a broad-based slump in technology stocks and a tumble in consumer staples on Thursday, while oil prices softened and other commodities went on a wild ride.

Rising U.S. Treasury yields widened the curve slightly after nine days of flattening, and supported a stronger dollar.

Strong corporate earnings had boosted stocks this week, but a tepid forecast on smartphone demand sent stocks from Apple (AAPL.O) to chipmakers tumbling on Thursday.

Tobacco company Philip Morris (PM.N) plunged as much as 16.5 percent after announcing weak results and forecasts, dragging down the S&P 500 index and rival Altria (MO.N).

Oil prices softened after having spiked to highs not seen since 2014.

"I do think we could see $70 pretty quick, but I want to caution that maybe we'll see the market level out a little bit in a few weeks," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

U.S. crude (CLcv1) fell 0.35 percent to $68.23 per barrel and Brent (LCOcv1) was last at $73.71, up 0.31 percent.

Nickel and aluminium soared to multi-year highs, buoyed by talk that Saudi Arabia had its sights set on $80 to $100 a barrel oil and of more U.S. sanctions on Russian aluminium producers, including Rusan <0486.HK>.

Nickel (CMNI3) initially jumped by the most in 6-1/2 years and aluminium prices (CMAL3) reached their highest since 2011.

But the metals later turned sharply negative, with analysts saying the gains were overdone.

"It has been a very erratic day, it's a bit crazy," said Rabobank metals sector economist Casper Burgering. "Nickel went up by almost 10 pct and aluminium by almost 8 percent and now are coming right back down." Expect more volatility, he said.

The Thomson Reuters CoreCommodity total return index (.TRCCRBTR) opened on Thursday near its highest since mid-2015, before giving back all its gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 116.23 points, or 0.47 percent, to 24,631.84, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 18.31 points, or 0.68 percent, to 2,690.33 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 57.58 points, or 0.79 percent, to 7,237.66.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3) rose 0.02 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> shed 0.47 percent.

The bullish sentiment in markets comes amid wider optimism about economic growth. The global economy is expected to expand this year at its fastest pace since 2010, the latest Reuters polls of over 500 economists worldwide suggest, but trade protectionism could quickly slow it down.

Investors were also relieved that no new U.S. demands on trade came out of a summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes last fell 14/32 in price to yield 2.9173 percent, its highest since Feb. 21.

The 30-year bond fell 1-7/32 in price to yield 3.1097 percent, from 3.046 percent late on Wednesday.

The dollar (.DXY) rose 0.3 percent against a basket of major currencies as the higher yields and expectations of more Federal Reserve rate increases offset concerns about a trade war and a ballooning U.S. budget deficit.


(Additional reporting by Maytaal Angel in London, Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, Richard Leong and David Gaffen in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)