Wall Street pulled back Wednesday after a drop in February's durable-goods orders injected more pessimism about the economy into the stock...
NEW YORK — Wall Street pulled back Wednesday after a drop in February’s durable-goods orders injected more pessimism about the economy into the stock market.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 109.74 to 12,422.86, after sinking as much as 155 points during the session.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 58 cents to close at $28.56 a share.
Boeing, also a Dow stock, added 40 cents to $76.30.
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Broader stock indexes retreated along with the Dow. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 11.86 to 1,341.13, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 16.69 to 2,324.36.
Investors who have been worried about the financial health of U.S. companies and individuals were disappointed to see a 1.7 percent dip in last month’s orders of durable goods, or big-ticket items that range from refrigerators to cars to computers. The Commerce Department’s durable-goods report indicates business spending and consumer demand, so two straight months of declines worried Wall Street.
Meanwhile, investors found another reason to be cautious after the Commerce Department said sales of new homes slumped in February. The 1.8 percent decline was a bit narrower than economists surveyed by Thomson Financial/IFR had anticipated, but it still dragged down sales for the fourth consecutive month to a 13-year low.
Considering that the Dow has added more than 425 points in the past three sessions, a pullback does not come as a surprise. But the question for Wall Street is whether economic data later this week on jobless claims, gross domestic product and personal spending will rekindle or further erode the market’s recent rally.
“I think the market has done a decent job of trying to find a bottom in the last few days, and that’s certainly an encouraging sign,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial’s RiverSource Investments. “But I don’t think there is by any means a general re-emergence of confidence in this market.”
The Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates, loosened its lending practices and helped prevent a total collapse of Bear Stearns. But the broader economy continues to struggle with tumbling home prices and rising commodity costs; crude oil, for one, surged back above $105 a barrel, gaining $4.68 to finish at $105.90.