Stocks slumped in listless trading yesterday amid concern about the upcoming Iraqi election and rising oil prices. The major indexes closed...
NEW YORK — Stocks slumped in listless trading yesterday amid concern about the upcoming Iraqi election and rising oil prices. The major indexes closed at their lowest levels of the year.
The Dow Jones industrials seesawed in and out of positive range through much of the day, closing down 24.38 at 10,368.61.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 2 cents to close at $25.67. Boeing, also a Dow stock, fell 43 cents to $49.64.
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Broader stock indicators also sagged. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.12 to 1,163.75. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 25.57 to 2,008.70.
Market watchers were growing increasingly concerned about January’s slide in stocks, which some analysts blamed on Wall Street’s strong fourth-quarter performance. A car-bomb attack in Baghdad, targeting the prime minister’s party headquarters, did little to ease the anxiety of investors ahead of Iraq’s Sunday election.
Oil prices declined early in the day but settled up 28 cents at $48.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“In general, the market is waiting for the elections in Iraq,” said Barry Berman, head trader for Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee. “And oil prices have been on the move up for the past week.”
Investors in the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which is down 7.66 percent year-to-date, may have been unsettled when chip-making giant Infineon Technologies warned that second-quarter earnings could slow. The company, based in Munich, Germany, reported that first-quarter net profits quadrupled, thanks to one-time license income.
The Infineon report is probably part of the Nasdaq’s malaise, said John Caldwell, chief investment strategist for McDonald Financial Group, part of Cleveland-based KeyCorp. But, he said, the telecommunications sector has also been a problem, with Motorola coming in last week with a cautious outlook and Nokia earnings still awaited.
Overall, Caldwell said, “Today strikes me as one of those days there’s a lot of activity but not much progress.”
Investors also continued to study quarterly earnings results. This week’s calendar of releases includes 10 of the 30 Dow industrials, along with more than 150 other major companies.