Stocks Dip After Disappointing Manufacturing Data

Friday Aug 24, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. stocks edged lower Friday after the latest sign of weakness in manufacturing.

Investors were disappointed by July orders for durable goods such as computers and industrial machinery, an important measure of economic health because it shows whether businesses are willing to spend to expand or improve.

In morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 18 to 13,039. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell three to 1,399. The Nasdaq composite index fell nine to 3,045.

It was likely to be the first down week for the Dow and the S&P 500 after six weeks of gains. The Dow has fallen every day this week. As usual in August, the market has been quiet. But the economic reports that have trickled out are less than positive.

Claims for unemployment insurance rose again. Chinese manufacturing fell to a nine-month low. And speculation that the Federal Reserve might step in with more help for the economy, a hope that investors clung to at midweek, dissipated quickly.

The price of crude oil fell for a second day. Demand for oil, and thus its price, falls when analysts expect the economy to slow because oil powers manufacturing and other industries.

Europe, though quiet, still showed signs of tension. Britain reported that its economy shrank in the second quarter, the latest confirmation that the country is still in recession.

The Greek prime minister met with his German and French counterparts to discuss Greece’s bailout. Germany is paying much of the bill and wants Greece to cut spending and take other steps if it wants to continue getting the money. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Greece needs "time to breathe."

Durable goods orders, reported by the Commerce Department, fell last month after excluding gains from the transportation category. That sector is traditionally volatile, and in July it rose largely because of orders at one company, Boeing.

Software maker Autodesk skidded more than 13 percent, falling $4.88 to $30.83 after weaker-than-expected second-quarter results.

A few companies managed to buck the market’s downward trend. Drugmaker Eli Lilly jumped more than 4 percent, rising $1.75 to $44.15, after reporting promising signs about a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Madison Square Garden Co. also jumped more than 4 percent, rising $1.86 to $42.11, after the entertainment company reported that profits tripled in the fiscal fourth quarter.

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