US Stocks Fall Amid Downbeat Labor, Housing Data
First Published Thursday, 19th April 2012 08:45 pm - © 2012 Dow Jones
--Stocks decline after weak housing, labor and manufacturing data
--Europe ends lower; Spain falls on mixed reading of debt auction
--EBay, Travelers rise on results
By Matt Jarzemsky
Of Dow Jones NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Stocks slid a second straight day as a trio of disappointing economic readings outweighed better-than-expected earnings reports from Travelers and others.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 69 points, or 0.5%, to 12964. The Standard Poor's 500-stock index shed 8.2 points, or 0.6%, to 1377, and the Nasdaq Composite ticked down 24 points, or 0.8% to 3008.
The information-technology and industrials sectors led the S&P 500 lower amid downbeat labor, housing and manufacturing readings. Just three of the Dow's 30 components rose. Travelers gained 3.7% and Verizon Communications added 1.3% after both reported first-quarter results that topped analysts' projections. General Electric edged 0.2% higher ahead of its results Friday morning.
"This whole market ran out of steam halfway through the day," said Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner of New York Stock Exchange floor broker Meridian Equity Partners. "It just seems to be getting worse and worse as the day goes on. All the European headlines are really catching up right now."
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was higher than expected, a sign of lost momentum in the labor market. Mid-Atlantic manufacturers saw business conditions this month decline more than anticipated. Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. fell in March for the second consecutive month and missed expectations. But the index of leading economic indicators in March posted the sixth increase in a row and edged out economists' forecasts.
The Federal Reserve said banks will have two years to bring their activities in line with the "Volcker rule" before regulators start enforcing it. The formal statement was aimed at calming bank fears that they would be forced to act before a July deadline.
European markets declined, with the Stoxx Europe 600 falling 0.5%. Spain's IBEX 35 slumped 2.4% to close at a three-year low. Spain sold EUR2.54 billion ($3.3 billion) of two- and 10-year bonds, just above the upper end of the range the government had targeted, but the yield on the 10-year bond came in higher than at the previous auction.
Some investors said they were relieved the Spanish auction didn't turn out worse. "In general, I think there was fear of the Spanish bond auction this morning," said Gary Flam, portfolio manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors in Los Angeles. "So when it came in, it may have been better than feared" in U.S. investors' minds.
Most Asian markets fell. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average shed 0.8%, and China's Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1%.
Crude-oil prices fell 0.4%, to settle at $102.27 a barrel, while gold prices gained 0.1%, to settle at $1,640.60 a troy ounce. The dollar gained ground against the yen but fell versus the euro.
Other companies reporting earnings included eBay, which saw shares jump 13%, for the biggest increase among S&P 500 components, after the online auctioneer reported first-quarter earnings and revenue that topped forecasts.
Qualcomm slid 6.6% after the mobile chip maker reported fiscal second-quarter results that exceeded expectations, but provided a third-quarter earnings outlook that was below projections.
Apple fell 3.4% amid concerns of potential component shortages and slowing iPhone sales based on comments in Qualcomm's and Verizon's results.
Bank of America dropped 1.7% after reporting its core operations muddled along in the first quarter as strong capital-market performance offset declining consumer-banking results. The bank's profits fell sharply due to a large accounting charge tied to the value of its own debt.
Morgan Stanley advanced 2.3% after the investment bank posted adjusted first-quarter earnings, after excluding charges related to the valuation of debt, and revenue well above expectations.
In other corporate news, Human Genome Sciences soared 98% after the company said it rejected an unsolicited buyout bid from the U.K.'s GlaxoSmithKline, saying the offer was too low.
CVR Energy climbed 8.2% after striking a deal that will see activist investor Carl Icahn push ahead with his hostile bid for the petroleum company.
Gilead Sciences rose 12% as a study showed experimental drugs from the company and Bristol-Myers Squibb suppressed hepatitis C in most patients four weeks after completing treatment.
Luxury luggage and briefcase maker Tumi Holdings jumped 47% after its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Tumi's debut priced at $18, above its expected range.
Data analysis software company Splunk surged 109% after its IPO on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock priced at $17, well above its expected range of $11 to $13. The debut encountered some technical difficulties on NYSE Arca soon after Splunk opened, which led to a brief halt and the cancellation of some trades.
-By Matt Jarzemsky, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240; email@example.com
--Steven Russolillo contributed to this article.