Investors closed out a stellar July by collecting profits yesterday, sending stocks lower despite a respectable reading in the nation's...
NEW YORK — Investors closed out a stellar July by collecting profits yesterday, sending stocks lower despite a respectable reading in the nation’s gross domestic product. The major indexes finished the week mixed, ending four consecutive weeks of gains, but had big advances for the month.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 64.64 to 10,640.91.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 14 cents yesterday to close at $25.61, down 0.3 percent for the week. Boeing, also a Dow stock, added 1 cent yesterday to $66.01, also down 0.3 percent for the week.
Broader stock indicators also fell for the day. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 9.54 at 1,234.18, and the Nasdaq composite lost 13.61 to 2,184.83.
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But while profits remained strong this week and the economic data were generally sound, the rally that kept stocks climbing for all of July appeared to be running out of momentum, and investors chose to start cashing in. For the week, the Dow fell 0.1 percent, while the S&P edged 0.04 percent higher and the Nasdaq gained 0.23 percent.
A string of bullish economic data and strong corporate earnings combined to make July a strong month on Wall Street. The Dow and the S&P each gained 3.6 percent, while the Nasdaq surged 6.2 percent.
The Nasdaq, which enjoyed very positive earnings reports from the technology sector, saw its best month since December 2003.
The Commerce Department’s latest reading on GDP showed the economy growing at an annualized rate of 3.4 percent. While economists had expected GDP growth to come in at 3.5 percent, it was considered a strong showing considering the high energy costs that continue to plague the economy.
“This is good growth, and it’s not the type of growth that’s going to scare people from an inflation standpoint,” said Mark Bronzo, managing director at Gartmore Separate Accounts. “However, from this number, I would think the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates, at least for the next few meetings.”
The Fed next meets Aug. 9 and is widely expected to raise the nation’s benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 3.5 percent. The prospect of further rate increases may also have been a factor in profit-taking by investors fearing a further slowdown in the economy.
Fears about oil’s effect on the economy contributed to the negative tone as oil prices again topped $60 per barrel. A barrel of light crude settled at $60.57, up 63 cents.