Wall Street pulled back today, with the Dow Jones industrials tumbling more than 100 points as a rush of quarterly results from bellwethers...
NEW YORK — Wall Street pulled back today, with the Dow Jones industrials tumbling more than 100 points as a rush of quarterly results from bellwethers like AT&T, DuPont and McDonald’s failed to impress investors. Oil prices also reached fresh highs, raising concerns about inflation.
The Dow average fell 104.71 to 12,720.31.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 17 cents to close at $30.25 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, slid 53 cents to $78.56.
Broader stock indicators also declined. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 12.22 to 1,375.95, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 31.10 to 2,376.94.
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Light, sweet crude rose $1.44 to settle at $118.07, having slipped back in the normal ebb and flow of trading. But it appeared inevitable that crude would pass $120.
AT&T’s earnings met Wall Street’s forecast, while McDonald’s and DuPont reported stronger-than-expected numbers. But DuPont said a U.S. slowdown will offset growth abroad, and McDonald’s said an important metric of its sales showed a decline for March. All three companies are among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow.
The comments gave trading a cautious tone. With hundreds of companies still to report results, investors are anxious about what the figures might say about the prospects for the economy.
“We’ve melted here, but it isn’t a plunge,” said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies. “We’re in a day-to-day assessment of how good earnings season is, and right now there’s more bad news than good news — the parade has been less positive than we’ve anticipated.”
Investors appeared little moved by news of continued weakness in the housing sector. Sales of existing homes fell 2 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million units, while the median sales price dropped for a seventh straight month. The National Association of Realtors also said sales rose in the Northeast and West but fell in the Midwest and South.
Oil’s seemingly relentless march higher this year raises the specter of higher inflation that would lead consumers to cut back their discretionary spending. It would also make the Federal Reserve less likely to keep lowering interest rates.