U.S. stocks fall as British vote remains focus

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks were falling in late-morning trading Friday as investors continued to monitor Britain’s frenzied debate on whether to leave the European Union. The debate took on a new level of concern after the killing of a member of parliament.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 94 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,640 as of 11:08 a.m. ET. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 12 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,067 and the Nasdaq composite fell 45 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,800.

Investors’ focus has increasingly turned to Britain’s vote next week on whether to leave the EU. The campaigning became heated this week but was halted after the killing of a British politician in favor of staying in the EU.

Investors interpreted the assassination as something that could sway more voters to stay in the EU. U.K. and European stocks and the British pound rose against the euro and dollar. The pound traded at $1.4289 compared with $1.4205 the day before.

“This tragic event may have dampened the ‘leave’ campaign’s momentum somewhat,” said Daniel Vernazza, analyst at UniCredit bank. He noted the movement in the pound was the most significant indicator that investors believe this would be positive for the ‘remain’ campaign.

Elizabeth Arden shares rose $4.43, or 48 percent, to $13.74 after hair and makeup company Revlon said it would buy the company for $14 a share, or $419.3 million.

Software company Oracle rose $1.17, or 3 percent, to $39.83 after the company reported earnings that beat analysts’ expectations.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 99 cents to $47.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.28 to $48.47 a barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 104.23 yen from 104.31 yen while the euro gained slightly to $1.1277 from $1.1236.