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Stocks slip on a ho-hum day

Stocks closed down Friday – a slow end to a slow week on Wall Street. Unimpressive earnings kept investors feeling wary of stocks, and news about the US economy left them uninspired.

By Christina RexrodeAP Business Writer / August 9, 2013

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday. Stocks closed down on a quiet day on Wall Street.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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New York

On the stock market, Friday was the ho-hum capstone to a ho-hum week, where unimpressive earnings kept investors feeling wary and news about the U.S. economy left them uninspired.

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All three major indexes ended lower, and almost everything about the day screamed summer. Trading was light and earnings season was nearly over.

The only major economic news the government released was wholesale inventories, and that's hardly a closely watched indicator. Those still at work remarked on the difference that just a week made — the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average both hit their highest closing levels exactly one week before — and joked that all their colleagues had already taken off for the Hamptons, a group of tony beach towns east of Manhattan.

"Practically the whole financial world is there today," said Jeff Sica, president and chief investment officer of Sica Wealth Management, from his office in Morristown, New Jersey.

Friday marked not just a losing day but also a losing week for the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite. For the Dow, it was its first weekly loss since June.

The Dow closed down 72.81 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,425.51. The S&P 500 index lost 6.06 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,691.42. The Nasdaq composite was down 9.02 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,660.11.

Investors couldn't pinpoint a specific reason for Friday's decline, but said the entire week — one when the Dow and S&P 500 rose on only one day — has been weighed down by uninspired earnings reports. Earnings are up, but by less than analysts were forecasting at the beginning of the year, and revenue is falling. There are also worries that the market has already reached its highs for the year. The S&P 500 is up 19 percent for the year.

"There's no specific culprit here, but the market seems to be tired," said Robbert Van Batenburg, director of market strategy at Newedge in New York.

Comments this week from Federal Reserve officials also make it seem likely that the Fed will soon rein in its stimulus measures, which are meant to prop up the economy and the stock market. Some investors worry that yanking off the Fed Band-Aid will reveal an economy that can't stand on its own.

Department store chain J.C. Penney was one of the few companies making news. Shares fell 6 percent as the company's board bickered with its largest shareholder, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, over how quickly the company should replace its interim CEO. The stock lost 79 cents to $12.87.

The government reported that sales for U.S. wholesalers increased — but wholesalers also cut their stockpiles for a third straight month, an indication that they're uncertain about future demand.

Among stocks making big moves:

— BlackBerry jumped after Reuters reported that the company may be growing more amenable to going private. The stock rose 54 cents, or 6 percent, to $10.05.

— Priceline.com was up and came close to being the first S&P 500 company to cross $1,000. Shares of the travel website rose $36.14, or 4 percent, to $969.89, a day after the company announced earnings that were better than Wall Street analysts expected.

—Noodles & Co. plummeted after the restaurant chain predicted that sales growth at established restaurants will slow down. The stock lost fell $4.96, or 11 percent, to $42.31.

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