Stocks tumbled on disappointing retail sales and a rise in oil prices yesterday as investors, worried about oil's impact on consumer spending...
NEW YORK — Stocks tumbled on disappointing retail sales and a rise in oil prices yesterday as investors, worried about oil’s impact on consumer spending, took profits from the market’s July rally.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 87.49 to 10,610.10.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow industrial stocks, added 7 cents to close at $27.32 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, fell 38 cents to $66.27.
Broader stock indicators also lost ground. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 9.18 to 1,235.86, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 25.49 to 2,191.32.
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Many of the nation’s retailers reported only modest sales gains as hot weather stifled demand for fall fashions and as many consumers spent their money at auto dealerships instead of malls. But investors nonetheless were wondering whether retailers’ results were a sign that consumers might finally be feeling the pinch from high gasoline and energy prices.
Those concerns were exacerbated by another rise in crude oil futures, which once again neared all-time highs. A barrel of light crude settled at $61.38, up 52 cents on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
However, with stocks still near four-year highs, analysts said the selloff was unlikely the start of a major downward trend.
“I think you’re seeing some movement on the retail sales and oil, but I don’t think it’s meaningful,” said Kurt Wolfgruber, chief investment officer at Oppenheimer Funds. “I still think this market will grudgingly go up.”
The sales reports and oil worries overshadowed a positive employment report from the Labor Department. First-time jobless claims fell by 1,000 last week to 312,000. The news bodes well for today’s monthly job-creation report. Economists expect the economy to have created 186,000 jobs in July.
While the latest retail sales reports weren’t alarming — especially since they followed a robust June — there were enough companies reporting disappointing sales to keep investors on edge.
“Retail sales set the tone for the day, but we’ve had very little news otherwise,” said Brian Williamson, an equity trader at The Boston Company Asset Management.
“We’ve come off of the recent highs and that probably triggered some selling. Volume isn’t huge, though, so you can’t say there’s a lot of conviction behind this. Probably some profit-taking, some consolidation, and that’s it.”