Wednesday, September 25, 2013
DJ: U.S. Stocks End Mostly Lower
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--U.S. stocks ended mostly lower, with blue chips suffering a fourth-straight loss, as a late slide in the financial sector and uncertainties over budget discussions weighed on sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 66.79 points, or 0.4%, to 15334.59. The Dow had wavered near unchanged levels for most of the session, until turning sharply lower in the final half hour of trading. The Dow has lost 342.35 points, or 2.2%, amid a four-session losing streak, the longest such stretch in more than a month. The S&P 500 index slipped 4.42 points, or 0.3%, to 1697.42, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 2.97 points, or 0.1%, to 3768.25.
Financials and health care were the leading sector decliners, while industrials gained.
Within the Dow, J.P. Morgan Chase dropped to a four-month low. The Wall Street Journal reported that the bank has offered to pay $3 billion to the Justice Department to settle a number of pending probes, including a case relating to the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities from 2005 to 2007.
Ian Winer, director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, said an otherwise quiet session was disrupted by the late slide in financial stocks. He added that investors remained cautious as they waited for some clarity on budget talks, and ahead of the end of the quarter.
Despite the late weakness in the Dow and S&P 500, he noted that the total number of advancing stocks outnumbered the number of declining stocks on both the NYSE and the Nasdaq exchange.
"Everyone is counting down the days to the potential government shutdown at the end of the month. And you're getting close to the end of the quarter," Mr. Winer said. "There isn't a whole lot of positioning going on."
The S&P 500 has lost 1.6% in the last four sessions, after closing at a record high of 1725.52 last Wednesday following the Fed's surprise decision to keep its $85-billion-a-month bond purchasing program intact. The index is still up 5.7% this quarter, and has risen 19% so far this year.
Sal Arnuk, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading, said investors are slowly coming to grips with the uncertainties surrounding Fed policy and the budget debate.
"The market has come a long way in the last few months, so we're not surprised to see it consolidate," Mr. Arnuk said. "But little by little, we're seeing risk factors [fade]."
The Conference Board's consumer-confidence index for September declined to 79.7 from a revised reading of 81.8 in August, versus expectations of 79.8. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home-price index for July rose 12.4% from year-earlier levels, in line with expectations of a 12.5% increase.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's manufacturing index for September was zero, down from August's 14.
Clark Yingst, chief market analyst at brokerage firm Joseph Gunnar & Co., said the Richmond Fed data were a "disappointment," especially following other strong regional manufacturing data recently.
Mr. Yingst expects the market to remain volatile following economic data releases, since the Fed said policy will remain dependent on incoming data. "With the Fed staying data dependent, the market will see increased volatility around economic data," he said.
Still on tap this week are data on durable goods and new home sales on Wednesday, jobless claims on Thursday and personal income and consumer sentiment on Friday.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.650% from 2.714% late Monday.
November crude-oil futures lost 0.4% to $103.13 a barrel, the lowest settlement value since July 30. September gold futures fell 0.8% to $1,316 a troy ounce. The dollar inched up against both the euro and the yen.
European markets gained, with the Stoxx Europe 600 closing up 0.2%, following data showing a pickup in German business confidence. The Ifo Institute's business sentiment index for September rose to 107.7 from August's 107.5, just shy of expectations of 108. Meanwhile, the business expectations index increased to 104.2 from 103.3, topping forecasts of 104. Germany's DAX 30 index tacked on 0.3%.
Asian markets were mostly lower. China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.6% after rallying 1.3% in the previous session. Japanese markets reopened after a long holiday weekend, with the Nikkei Stock Average slipping 0.1%.
In corporate news, Applied Materials rose after the semiconductor-equipment maker agreed to merge with Japan's Tokyo Electron, creating a company with a market capitalization of $29 billion.
Facebook gained to a record closing high. A report in the South China Morning Post said the Chinese government plans to lift an Internet access ban within the Shanghai free-trade zone, which could clear citizens to visit social media sites like Facebook. Also, Citigroup upgraded Facebook to "buy" from "neutral," saying factors that drove sharper growth in the second quarter appeared sustainable.