Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Markets Show Little Change

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Markets Show Little Change

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market ended the session nearly flat Thursday after suffering yet another disappointment -- retail sales reports that showed consumers aren't spending at a pace likely to recharge the economy.

Some last-minute buying after a choppy day lifted the major indexes, but ultimately, too few investors stepped forward for stocks to make any real progress.

"I don't think, in general, that people feel there's a pressing need to put money to work in this market," said Michael Strauss, managing director at Commonfund. "Six to nine months from now things will probably look better, but we just have to get through this, and that's proving difficult."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 5.06 at 10,298.56, barely making a dent in its 165-point loss Wednesday.

Broader stock indicators were little changed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 0.10 to 1,183.43, and the Nasdaq Composite index fell 3.04 to 1,963.32.

All three indexes have spent the summer trading in a narrow range as investors buy stocks on hopes the economy is improving and then sell them when it becomes clear it is not.

Even the six interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve since January have failed to give Wall Street any lasting inspiration. What's changed, analysts say, is that investors are losing patience waiting for indications that the economy is in fact getting better.

The resulting exasperation has manifested itself in a tendency for investors to move cautiously and sell, rather than buy.

On Thursday, mixed July sales results from the nation's retailers became the latest reason for the market's already foul mood. While consumers are beginning to spend their tax rebate checks, the figures suggested that discounters and lower-priced merchants are most likely to benefit. The results gave Wall Street little hope that consumers, whose spending accounts for two-thirds of the nation's economy, will help business turn around. …

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