Dow Falls 160 but Finishes Up for Week

The Dow was at one point down over 240 points Friday despite somewhat promising economic data, as eurozone concerns linger. Oil fell as the dollar rose. Gregg Greenberg has The Real Story.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stocks finished considerably lower in another temperamental session Friday, and oil dropped below $72 a barrel, as investors sidestepped an onslaught of more or less promising economic figures and instead remained focused on concerns about sovereign debt in the eurozone.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 163 points, or 1.5%, to close at 10,620, though it fell over 240 points at the depths during the session. The

S&P 500

slid 22 points, or 1.9%, at 1136, as the

Nasdaq

shed 48 points, or 2%, to 2347.

But because stocks tumbled so far to end last week, the major indices still claimed gains for this week despite the slumping Friday session. The Dow finished 2.3% higher since last Friday's close, while the S&P tracked up 2.2% and the Nasdaq improved 3.6%.

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In Europe, the

euro dwindled to its lowest point since 2008, in part on an overseas news report saying French President Nicolas Sarkozy had threatened to pull the country out of the euro. That report was later denied by Sarkozy's aides. But increasing fears about waning growth throughout the region in light of recent austerity measures was also pressuring markets both foreign and domestic, according to reports.

Former

Federal Reserve

Chairman Paul Volcker did little to assuage fears late Thursday, telling an audience there was potential for "disintegration" of the euro, according to

Bloomberg

, while a

Reuters

story laid out comments

Deutsche Bank

CEO Josef Ackermann made on German television, questioning Greece's ability to pay back on its massive debt.

"There's still concerns remaining from the eurozone," said Richard Sparks, senior equities analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "Any solution, especially on something of this magnitude, isn't going to be perfect. For me, the bigger picture is that the rescue plan is in place. The folks talking about dampening growth might have valid concerns. But, I think, first things first -- save the EU and work out the other issues later. The market is still fragile, so you'll see continued volatility for a while. Any news indicating anything perceived as negative is going to affect matters."

European markets deteriorated late, as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt fell Friday by 3.1% each. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.4%, and Japan's Nikkei lost 1.5%.

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The Economy

The Commerce Department said

retail sales rose 0.4% in April from March growth of 2.1%. The increase was better than the 0.2% uptick that the market had been expecting, according to consensus figures provided by Briefing.com. Excluding autos, sales still rose 0.4% in April, which slightly missed the 0.5% rise projected by analysts.

The

Federal Reserve

also said industrial production rose 0.8% in April, matching economists' projections and bettering March's upwardly revised 0.2% jump. Meanwhile, capacity utilization also climbed by to 73.7% last month from 73.1% the month before, landing near forecasts calling for an uptick to 73.9%.

The University of Michigan said consumer sentiment also edged higher to read 73.3 in May, a little lighter than the anticipated climb to 73.5. Still, the mark was up from the 72.2 reading posted in April.

The Commerce Department later said business inventories increased 0.4% in March, matching forecasts, compared with February's 0.5% growth.

After the

New York Times

reported Thursday that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was probing the relationship between rating agencies and eight banks, additional regulatory reform headlines were weighing on financial services stocks Friday as the KBW Bank index slid 3.7%.

Credit rating agencies face increasing pressure regarding their current business model as the Senate voted late Thursday to establish a government-appointed panel to decide who rates an individual asset security. The move is an attempt to curb conflicts when issuers seek ratings from agencies that they then pay.

The

Securities and Exchange Commission

is also furthering its probe of Wall Street's alleged conflicted dealings, the

Wall Street Journal

reported Friday, focusing now on the sale of

municipal bonds that banks also bet against.

The Senate approved an amendment late Thursday as part of Wall Street reform legislation that could restrict certain

debit card transaction fees. That move, in turn, put pressure on credit card issuers today.

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

, for instance, was the Dow's chief laggards, falling 5.1%. Shares of

Visa

(V) - Get Report

were off by 9.9% and

MasterCard

(MA) - Get Report

tumbled 8.6%.

In a midday speech today,

President Obama put renewed focus on the Gulf of Mexico oil slide today, castigating executives from

BP

(BP) - Get Report

,

Transocean

(RIG) - Get Report

and

Halliburton

(HAL) - Get Report

for deflecting accountability during congressional testimony.

Observers waiting for a reason behind last Thursday's dramatic stock drop, or "flash crash," got another theory today after

Reuters

reported that a large sale of

e-mini contracts by

Waddell & Reed Financial

(WDR) - Get Report

may have been at the heart of the broader sell-off.

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Company News

New York Times

(NYT) - Get Report

plans to begin charging readers to access articles on its flagship newspaper's Web site in January.

Noranda Aluminum

cut its initial public offering as it was priced at $8 share.

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

posted first-quarter profit that fell in-line with analysts' expectations, while sales edged higher by 1% to $3.93 billion. The retailer's full-year forecast, however, was lighter than expected. Shares lost 2.2% today.

Dillard's

(DDS) - Get Report

, on the other hand, closed 7.9% higher at $27.76 after posting a first-quarter profit that easily outdistanced estimates.

Shares of

TiVo

(TIVO) - Get Report

plunged 41.6% after a federal appeals court said it would revisit a ruling favoring TiVo in a patent dispute with

Dish Network

(DISH) - Get Report

and

EchoStar

(SATS) - Get Report

, according to

Bloomberg

.

Graphics chipmaker

Nvidia

(NVDA) - Get Report

, which beat earnings estimates late Thursday but offered a disheartening forecast, was watched its shares drop 11.5% Friday.

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Commodities and the Dollar

With the dollar strengthening and euro plummeting today, crude oil for June delivery crumbled under the $72 mark, settling $2.79 lower at $71.61 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the June gold contract fell behind by $1.40 to finish at $1,227.80 an ounce.

The dollar was trading higher against a basket of currencies, with the

dollar index up by 0.9%.

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>>Treasuries

Treasuries

The benchmark 10-year Treasury strengthened 23/32, diluting the yield to 3.452%.

The two-year note rose 3/32, lowering the yield to 0.790%. The 30-year bond gained 1 16/32, dropping the yield to 4.330%.

--Written by Sung Moss and Melinda Peer in New York

.

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