Updated from 4:05 p.m. EST
Concerns about another terrorist attack and a still-sluggish economy sent stocks lower Friday, pushing the major averages down for a fourth-straight week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 65 points, or 0.8%, at 7864, while the Nasdaq finished down 19 points, or 1.5%, at 1282. The S&P 500 fell 8 points, or 1%, to 829. For the week, the Dow lost 2.3%, while the S&P fell 3% and the Nasdaq shed 2.8%.
"To call the investment community jittery and unsure at this time is nothing but a huge understatement," said David Skarica, editor of the newsletter Addicted To Profits. "Currently, it is the most dangerous time in the last five years to be invested in the market."The Bush administration raised the national terror alert to orange from yellow Friday to indicate a high risk of a terrorist attack. The government said it has received indications that al Qaeda may be planning attacks on U.S. targets in mid-February and has ordered security to be tightened at major bridges and tunnels as well as ports, railroads and nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, analysts and investors ignored January's employment report, which seemed to suggest that the labor market could be stabilizing. "The reality is, the economy is still weak," said Donald Straszheim, president of Straszheim Global Advisors. "Twelve months into the recovery, jobs are down 0.1% versus a postwar average of +3.3%. The only weaker recovery was after the 1990-91 recession." The unemployment rate fell to 5.7% in January from 6% in the prior month as the economy added 143,000 nonfarm jobs. That was the strongest job growth since November 2000 and easily exceeded consensus expectations, which called for 69,000 jobs to be added to the payroll. Analysts had expected the jobless rate to remain steady at 6%. In December, 156,000 jobs were lost.