Selasa, 29 September 2009
Drop in consumer confidence weighs on stocks
NEW YORK (AP) -- A surprise drop in consumer confidence tripped up investors Tuesday, a day after a round of corporate takeovers set off a steep market rally.
Stocks slid after the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell in September. Economists had been expecting a reading of 57; instead it came in at 53.1.
The private research group said consumers are still worried about losing their jobs. Many analysts warn a turnaround in the economy won't hold if consumers don't start picking up spending and employers add jobs.
The report offset early enthusiasm over an increase in home prices.
Stocks broke a three-day losing streak Monday after news of several big acquisitions signaled to investors that corporate America is feeling more confident about the economy and willing to take on more risk through mergers and acquisitions.
"You had these M&A deals make people feel better about growth prospects and valuations," said Nick Kalivas, vice president of financial research and senior equity index analyst at MF Global. "We don't have any followthrough M&A today and the market really lacks a forward catalyst."
With economic reports still mixed, some investors are hesitant to keep buying and extend the market's nearly seven-month advance, or at least keep it going at the same fervid pace. The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index has gained 56.8 percent since hitting a 12-year low in March.
"Stock have been moving aggressively up," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Clover Investment Advisors. "It's natural for investors to want to lock in some of those gains as we end the quarter."
The Dow Jones industrials fell 47.16, or 0.5 percent, to 9,742.20, chipping away part of Monday's 124-point gain. The S&P 500 index slipped 2.38, or 0.2 percent, to 1,060.60, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 6.70, or 0.3 percent, to 2,124.04.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 2.77, or 0.5 percent, to 610.45.
Falling stocks narrowly outpaced those that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 5 billion shares, compared with 3.8 billion Monday when trading was light because of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.
Stocks jumped Monday as news of large takeovers by Xerox Corp. and Abbott Laboratories brought hope that corporate dealmaking could be making a comeback. That would be a sign that borrowing is getting easier and that companies expect the economy to improve.
Analysts have been saying that some retreat in stocks will help the market avoid getting overheated. But so far, breaks in the advance have been mild and brief, as investors look for opportunities to buy into the market.
"There hasn't been any followthrough on those down days," said Howard Ward, portfolio manager at GAMCO Growth Fund, whose portfolio is concentrated in areas most sensitive to the economy, including technology, energy and financial stocks.
The market could have trouble resuming its advance if economic reports don't boost optimism. Despite better signs on manufacturing and home sales, unemployment stands at a 26-year high of 9.7 percent. Investors will get the latest news on employment Friday when the Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report, one of the most closely watched economic reports.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 major cities provided the latest encouraging sign for the housing market. The index rose 1.2 percent in July from June. Home prices are still 13.3 percent below July a year ago, but the annual drops have slowed in all 20 cities for the past six months.
Energy stocks slid as oil lost ground amid worries that the economy won't be strong enough to lift demand as much as expected. Oil had been steadily rising in recent months on expectations that the economy was going to be stronger, therefore pushing demand higher.
Crude fell 13 cents to settle at $66.71 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other trading, bond prices mostly fell after five days of gains. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.29 percent from 3.28 percent late Monday.
The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold edged higher.
Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX index lost 0.4 percent, and France's CAC-40 slipped 0.3 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.9 percent.