Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Stocks Drop amid Economic Concerns

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Stocks Drop amid Economic Concerns

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) -- Disappointing economic and earnings news, proof that companies still face challenges in the coming months, sent stocks sharply lower Thursday. The market was also wary about the government's employment report due out Friday.

"There are renewed fears about weakness in the economy. We believe the economy is bottoming, but we are not there yet," said Alan Skrainka, chief market strategist at Edward Jones of St. Louis.

But Wall Street's resurgent optimism, along with the prospect of even lower interest rates, helped blue chips curb their losses just before the close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 80.03 at 10,796.65 after being off more than 148 points earlier in the session.

The blue chip index closed just above its break-even point for the year, 10,786.85, but still sacrificed gains this week that had brought the Dow to its highest close since February.

The Nasdaq Composite index fell 74.40 to 2,146.20 to end its four- day winning streak. However, the loss accounted for less than half the 185.72 that the tech-dominated index had picked up since last Friday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index, the market's broadest measure, slipped 18.85 to finish Thursday at 1,248.58.

Investors were trading cautiously ahead of the employment report for April, Skrainka said. Unemployment is expected remain at 4.3 percent, where it stood in March.

The market was troubled by other labor data Thursday. The Labor Department reported that first-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose last week to a five-year high, a sign that employers' need for workers continues to wane.

The market's losses were widespread, in keeping with the fact that most businesses have been hurt by the weakened economy and that many have been forced to lay off workers and slash prices. General Motors fell 52 cents to $56.08, while Coca-Cola dropped 82 cents to $46.75. Both are Dow stocks.

Tech shares also pulled down the market's indexes. IBM fell $1.70 to $113.70, while Intel stumbled $1.52 to $30.40. Both are Dow components, as well.

Computer makers suffered as analysts predicted demand would not pick up soon. …

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