Arkansas Companies Feel Wall Street's Pain

Monday's plunge of the U.S. stock markets carried over to shares of Arkansas' publicly traded companies with every major company reporting a decline.

The decreases ranged from just 0.21 percent for P.A.M. Transportation Services Inc. of Tontitown, which ended the day at $9.31 per share, to 11.8 percent for Dillard's Inc. of Little Rock. The retailer, whose stock during the last couple of years has nicely rebounded from worrisome lows, saw its stock fall to $46.22 per share, a decline of $6.17.

No sector and no company, not even Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, the world's largest retailer, was spared the pain.

The stock of Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado fell by 8.55 percent, to $50.48, while Wal-Mart shares slipped 3.8 percent to $48.92.

Even Bank of the Ozarks of Little Rock, which has seen record earnings with its strategy of acquiring bargain-basement banks in the Southeast in FDIC-assisted deals, dropped 6.08 percent to end the day at $47.86 a share.

Shares of Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, which on Monday reported that its profit fell 21 percent for its third fiscal quarter on higher grain costs and lagging results from its chicken business, slipped 3.86 percent to close at $15.68.

The plunge of 634.76 points in the Dow Jones industrials was the sixth-worst point drop in the last 112 years and the biggest decline since December 2008.

The declines occurred on the first trading day after Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. debt.

The downgrade, however, wasn't the only thing troubling the market. Investors worried about the slowing U.S. economy, escalating debt problems threatening Europe and the prospect that fear in the markets would reinforce itself, as it did during the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.

Paradoxically, investors seeking safe places to stash their cash placed their bets on U.S. government debt, even though it was the target of the downgrade Friday, when S&P removed the United States from its list of the lowest-risk countries.

Gold also proved popular. It rose $61.40 an ounce to settle at $1,713.20.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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