Wall Street finished a difficult week lower yesterday as investors, restrained by uncertainty about the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina...

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NEW YORK — Wall Street finished a difficult week lower yesterday as investors, restrained by uncertainty about the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina, had little reaction to a sharp decline in oil prices and less unemployment. Despite the week’s fluctuations, the major indexes ended with moderate gains.

At the close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.26 to 10,447.37.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, slipped 18 cents yesterday to close at $27.02 a share, but remained up 0.2 percent for the week. Boeing, also a Dow stock and now the target of a strike by Machinists, fell $1.65 yesterday to $64.34, and was down 3 percent for the week.

The broader stock indicators also were lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 3.57 to 1,218.02, and the Nasdaq composite index closed down 6.83 at 2,141.07.

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For the week, the Dow ended down 0.5 percent, the S&P 500 index fell 1.1 percent, and the Nasdaq dropped 1 percent.

The market seesawed in yesterday’s session on news that unemployment reached a four-year low, and as energy prices retreated on signs that allied nations will help cushion a U.S. oil shortage. The numbers, however, were shadowed by fears that Katrina’s devastation of the Gulf Coast could trigger a sharp economic downturn.

“I consider this event as critical, if not more economically damaging, as Sept. 11, 2001,” said Paul McManus, senior vice president at Independence Investment. “We have no idea what the extent of the damage is down there, and we may not know until next week.”

A barrel of light crude oil sank $1.90 to settle at $67.57 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where gasoline futures dropped 22.5 cents to $2.18 per gallon.

Investors largely ignored a report from the Labor Department showing that the 169,000 jobs created in August were fewer than the 190,000 predicted by economists, even as the job growth pushed unemployment down to a low of 4.9 percent from 5 percent the month before.