May 27, 2024

Dow Retreats for Fifth Straight Day

It was a disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, turnaround to the day’s trading, in which the three main stock indexes posted slight gains through most of the day before losing steam.

Stocks in the Dow have now retreated for a fifth consecutive trading day. The Dow closed down 62.44 points, or 0.51 percent, to 12,240.11. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index lost 4.22 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,300.67. But the Nasdaq composite index was up 1.46 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,766.25.

Still, the declines on Thursday were not as steep as in previous days.

“The anxiety level is clearly rising but I think there is a reluctance in the markets for investors to sell in to that anxiety,” said Russell Price, a senior economist with Ameriprise Financial

But he added: “The closer we get to that 11th hour, the more questionable that becomes.”

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.95 percent, compared with 2.98 percent late Wednesday.

The Dow has declined more than 3 percent since last Thursday as Congress failed to agree on plans to cut the government deficit and raise the debt ceiling; it is down about 1 percent for the month.

Other factors have compounded the markets’ unease. In Europe, despite a recent deal aimed at addressing fiscal problems in Greece, fresh nervousness bubbled up over other euro zone countries.

Kevin H. Giddis, the executive managing director and president for fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Keegan Company, said investors saw a disappointing auction of Italy’s 10-year bonds.

“Investors appear to have, temporarily at least, shifted their gaze away from the backs-and-forths in the debt ceiling debate and towards the economic challenges in the euro zone,” said Mr. Giddis in a research note.

In the United States, investors had plenty of fresh economic and corporate material to pick through for clues to a recovery.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that initial claims for jobless benefits last week dipped below the 400,000 level, a threshold that some economists say indicates an improving the jobs market. Total initial jobless claims fell to 398,000, below analysts’ forecasts of 415,000, in the week ended July 23, a level that Goldman Sachs economists called a “tentative positive.”

Such data is subject to seasonal adjustments and revisions, but the four-week moving average, considered a more reliable indicator of the job market, also declined.

“Unfortunately, we will need to see next week’s claims figures to get more clarity on the true cause,” Goldman Sachs said in a research note.

Pending home sales also rose in June, showing a small 2.4 percent gain that could lead to a gain in completed sales in the coming months, another survey showed.

The debt-ceiling stalemate is affecting at least some economic activity, with some businesses delaying decisions, according to analysts and a recent Federal Reserve report. Estimates for growth of the nation’s gross domestic product in the second quarter are scheduled to be released on Friday, and analysts predicted it would be slightly below the first quarter’s 1.9 percent annualized rate.

Technology shares were the best performing sector in the broader market. Shares of the LSI Corporation were up more than 14 percent at $7.35 after its results on Wednesday beat expectations for revenue, which was up 6 percent to $501 million, and issued a strong outlook.

Exxon Mobil reported strong second-quarter earnings, but they were a bit lower than forecast. Its stock was down more than 2 percent at $81.46.

And on the Nasdaq, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters rose more than 16 percent to $102.57. It reported on Wednesday that fiscal third quarter net income more than doubled to $56.3 million and that it was expecting strong growth in the fourth quarter.

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