Stocks finished a quiet session moderately lower Monday as investors grappled with concerns about the health of corporate profits after...
NEW YORK — Stocks finished a quiet session moderately lower Monday as investors grappled with concerns about the health of corporate profits after Wachovia bank posted disappointing quarterly results.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.36 to 12,302.06.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 22 cents to close at $28.06 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 36 cents to $77.22.
Broader stock indicators also declined. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.51 to 1,328.32, and the technology-laden Nasdaq composite index fell 14.42 to 2,275.82.
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Investors paused after a sell-off Friday and ahead of a raft of quarterly results and economic data arriving this week.
Wachovia surprised investors by posting a first-quarter loss of $393 million and cutting its quarterly dividend by 41 percent to 37.5 cents. The bank, which analysts had expected to post a profit, also said it plans to raise $7 billion through a stock offering.
But investors appeared to find some encouragement in the session from a better-than-expected report on retail sales.
The Commerce Department’s reading on March retail sales, which showed a modest 0.2 percent rise after February’s 0.6 percent decline, appeared to quell some unease about the economy. The March figure bested the flat reading analysts had predicted.
Excluding a 1.1 percent rise at gasoline-service stations, retail sales would have been flat last month — and possibly negative when adjusted for inflation.
“We obviously came out with more bad financial news,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research, referring to the Wachovia report. “The flip side is we had retail sales come in a little better than expected. It seems like they kind of negated each other.”
Investors sold off shares of financials, led by Wachovia, which fell $2.26, or 8 percent, to $25.55. Citigroup, which is due to report its quarterly results Friday, fell 85 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $22.51.
“This is just more bad news for financials. It just confirms that the financials are by no means out of the woods yet,” Detrick said of Wachovia.
Detrick noted that the Wachovia news compounded investors’ concerns about the banking sector after a report Friday from General Electric. GE, seen as a bellwether of big business and the broader economy, said its financial-services business was challenged in the first quarter by the slowing economy and difficult capital markets. Its disappointing numbers sent the major indexes down by more than 2 percent Friday.