Patriot Coal Corp., the fourth-largest eastern U.S. coal company, led other companies lower on concern Europe’s debt crisis will threaten fuel demand.
Patriot slid $1.23, or 7.7 percent, to $14.83 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Arch Coal Inc., the second-largest U.S. coal producer, dropped $1.62, or 7.6 percent, to $19.67. Consol Energy Inc., the coal and natural gas producer, lost $2.31, or 6.4 percent, to $33.73.
Equities retreated amid uncoordinated attempts by policy makers to resolve the region’s debt crisis. Separately, a Labor Department report showed U.S. initial jobless claims rose by 25,000 to 471,000 in the week ended May 15, exceeding the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the highest level in a month.
“It’s generally investor concern over a prolonged slowdown, particularly in Europe,” said Jeremy Sussman, an analyst at Brean Murray Carret & Co. in New York. “That’s got everybody jittery today.”
Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal producer, plunged $2.42, or 6.3 percent, to $36.07. Alpha Natural Resources Inc., the third-biggest coal company, slipped $1.42, or 4 percent, to $34.11. Massey Energy Co., the sixth-biggest U.S. coal producer, fell $1.39, or 4.4 percent, to $29.96.
Each of the coal companies has fallen at least 18 percent in the past month and Sussman said they will be a bargain for investors once the market settles.
“Right now fundamentals don’t matter, but at some point they will,” he said.