Wall Street retreated again today after readings on jobs and manufacturing — the first reports for the third quarter — indicated...
NEW YORK — Wall Street retreated again today after readings on jobs and manufacturing — the first reports for the third quarter — indicated that businesses and workers still face a tough economy. The major indexes ended a turbulent week narrowly mixed.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 51.70 to 11,326.32. The Dow ended the week down 0.39 percent.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 28 cents to close at $25.44 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 90 cents to $62.01.
Broader stock indicators also lost ground. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 7.07 to 1,260.31, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 14.59 to 2,310.96.
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The S&P finished the week up 0.02 percent, and the Nasdaq finished up 0.21 percent.
A massive quarterly loss at General Motors and rising oil prices also gave investors reason to trade cautiously, but the market was considerably calmer than the first four sessions of the week, when the Dow rose or fell by triple digits each day.
Today’s reports were not as poor as many analysts had anticipated. Nonetheless, they portrayed an economy that was still sagging as it entered the second half of the year. The Labor Department said jobs fell for the seventh straight month in July and the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent. The report arrived after data Thursday showing an unexpected jump in jobless claims to a five-year high.
“It reinforces the idea that we’re seeing a steady, but not dramatic, decline in employment, which is likely to last for some time,” said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group in Westport, Conn.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management said manufacturing activity was flat in July. Given Thursday’s disappointing report on gross domestic product growth, Wall Street is becoming more certain that the United States is in a recession — and one that could be prolonged. U.S. recessions since World War I have lasted about 10 months, on average, but have ranged from as little as six months to as long as 16 months, Sheldon said.
The flagging economy has sapped consumers’ ability to spend freely, which in turn is hurting profits at many big companies. GM said it lost $15.5 billion in the second quarter, more than analysts predicted and the automaker’s third-worst loss in its history.
There was also more bad news about construction; the Commerce Department reported that building activity declined in June. And the price of oil rose $1.02 to $125.10, retreating from an earlier gain of more than $4, but still signaling that its steep decline of recent weeks has at least temporarily been halted.