Economic jitters behind Dow's three-day fall

Frank Franklin II/AP
A traders eyes prices on the New York Stock Exchange. On Wednesday, the Dow fell saw its first three-day decline in nearly a month.

The US stock market endured Wednesday its first three-day decline in nearly a month – and its biggest multiday drop since the deep gloom of March.

Investors, it seemed, were stuck. Convinced that the economy is reaching a stabilization point, they found little hard evidence that things would improve once it stopped contracting. Indeed, the chorus of analysts suggesting another decline on Wall Street seemed to be getting louder.

Not even the announcement of the biggest overhaul in financial regulation since the Great Depression could shake traders from their lethargy.

As a result, Wednesday's trading was choppy, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average fluctuating before closing down a mere 7 points to 8497.18. The S&P 500 Index also fell a point to 910.71. The Nasdaq moved up 11 points to 1808.06.

One of the potential bellwethers for the economy – FedEx – posted higher than expected quarterly earnings. The real concern, though, was its view of the future. The company estimated earnings per share of between 30 and 45 cents for the coming quarter. Analysts had expected something on the order of 68 cents per share.

If traders needed more evidence of a weak economy going forward, the consumer price index barely increased in May, suggesting that businesses couldn't raise prices because demand was so soft.

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