Stocks drifted to a mixed finish yesterday as Wall Street worried about the impact of high oil prices on the nation's trade deficit and...
NEW YORK — Stocks drifted to a mixed finish yesterday as Wall Street worried about the impact of high oil prices on the nation’s trade deficit and Intel’s bullish sales forecast prompted some profit-taking. The major indexes also were mixed for the week.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.61 to 10,512.63.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, slipped 8 cents yesterday to close at $25.43 a share and was unchanged for the week. Boeing, also a Dow stock, fell 46 cents yesterday to $64.65, one cent below last Friday’s close.
Broader stock indicators lost ground. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.82 to 1,198.11, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 13.91 to 2,063.00.
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The week’s trading was marked by a lack of hard economic news and continued uncertainty over the health of the economy, despite Greenspan’s forecast. For the week, the Dow rose 0.5 percent, the S&P climbed 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.4 percent.
Investors were concerned that high oil prices, which helped boost the April trade deficit by 6 percent, would further weigh on the economy and drag on stocks. According to the Commerce Department, the trade deficit rose to $56.96 billion from $53.56 billion in March. While that was a smaller increase than expected, oil imports rose to the second-highest level on record — enough to raise concerns that high oil prices would weigh on consumer spending.
Despite Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s relatively positive assessment of the economy on Thursday, Wall Street’s economic worries were not assuaged, and many investors were hoping for better news from second-quarter earnings and, ideally, stronger economic data in the weeks ahead.
“The values are no longer there, the economy is slowing, interest rates are taking their toll and are starting to slow economic growth,” said Steven Goldman, chief market strategist at Weeden in Greenwich, Conn. “The market is not going to be as resilient; gains aren’t as sustainable, action is choppier.”
Investors’ fears were heightened as crude futures held on to a large part of Thursday’s sharp gains. A barrel of light crude settled at $53.54, down 74 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude futures were up $1.74 on Thursday.
Yesterday’s economic news stole momentum from Intel’s mid-quarter update, in which the company boosted its revenue forecasts. Intel is seen as a barometer for the rest of the technology sector, but the widely expected news failed to lift its stock.
Intel said strong demand will result in higher quarterly sales. Shares of Intel, however, fell 72 cents to $26.98.
“A lot of people have been talking about how they had been expecting Intel to come out last night and refine guidance upward,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at Standard & Poor’s. “Buy on the rumors, sell on the fact.”
Fellow Dow industrial General Motors surged 8.5 percent, or $2.70, to $34.51 after The Wall Street Journal reported the United Auto Workers were willing to work with the struggling automaker to help rein in costs.