Financial-Sector Woes Put Stocks on the Retreat - TheStreet

Updated from 1:18 p.m. EDT

Stocks on Wall Street were falling Tuesday, giving back the previous day's big gains as anxious traders dealt a substantial blow to

Lehman Brothers

( LEH) shares.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was recently down 128 points to 11,382, and the

S&P 500

dropped 25 points to 1,243. The

Nasdaq

fell 30 points to 2,240.

Before trading got underway,

Dow Jones Newswires

reported that South Korea Development Bank, which had been rumored ready to buy a stake in Lehman, had ended talks with the struggling brokerage. A later

Bloomberg

report cast doubt on the early news, but both news outlets are now reporting that talks between Lehman and KDB did in fact end.

As

Lehman explores its options

, shares of the company are trading down some 40%.

"The financials are weak," said Ted Weisberg, floor trader at Seaport Securities. "I don't know if there's any specific news; I only know what I read in the paper." He said that much of the headline news concerning Lehman is conjecture and talk.

"There continues to be no tolerance for negative rhetoric, no matter what the source," said Weisberg. "Nothing seems to work, and whatever happens seems to have a 24-hour life cycle at best, and

then we're back to the underlying trend, which seems to be neutral at best."

"See if they have another working weekend at Treasury this weekend," said Dirk Van Dijk, director of research at Zacks Equity Research. "This doesn't look like a pretty situation with Lehman or

WaMu

(WM) - Get Report

or

Downey Savings and Loan

(DSL) - Get Report

."

Van Dijk said that the government bailout of

Fannie Mae

( FNM) and

Freddie Mac

(DSL) - Get Report

over the weekend was probably necessary, but investors should not pretend it was a good thing. "Anybody who thinks we're totally out of the woods because of this was ... delusional," said Van Dijk, who foresees more pain for financial-services companies as the housing market and global economy continue to deteriorate.

Market analysts' revisions on some stocks' ratings were reflecting the negative sentiment. Stifel Nicolaus downgraded banking companies

TCF Financial

(TCB)

and

BB&T

(BBT) - Get Report

to hold from buy and to sell from hold, respectively.

Wachovia

(WB) - Get Report

also took a hit from Merrill Lynch, which cut the bank to underperform from neutral.

Merrill also took consumer conglomerate

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

down a peg, to neutral from outperform, saying the stock trades at an unjustified premium.

Homebuilders

Pulte Home

(PHM) - Get Report

and

KB Home

(KBH) - Get Report

both got downgraded at Credit Suisse to neutral from outperform.

Meanwhile, mining company

Sasol

(SSL) - Get Report

reported that full-year profit rose 32% from a year ago. The company also said it expects continued growth in the year ahead.

Marius Kloppers, CEO of fellow miner

BHP Billiton

(BHP) - Get Report

, said that slowing global demand for commodities will bring shareholders of

Rio Tinto

( RTP) to support BHP's hostile bid for the company.

Elsewhere, fast-food colossus

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

announced that its

August same-store sales rose 8.5%

, up from an 8.1% increase a year ago.

In the technology space, a

regulatory filing showed Michael Dell

, CEO of PC maker

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

, bought $100 million in the company's stock last week.

As for economic data, the National Association of Realtors' pending-home sales figures showed a 3.2% contraction in July to an index reading of 86.5, a greater decline than was expected by economists. The Census Bureau reported that wholesale inventories in July rose to 1.4% from 0.9% in June. Analysts were predicting an increase of 0.7%.

Looking at commodities, the price of crude oil was down $3.08 to close at $103.26 a barrel. Prices fell after forecasts indicated Hurricane Ike would miss key Gulf Coast production facilities. Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia's oil minister, and Rafael Ramirez, energy and oil minister of Venezuela, both signaled that OPEC would keep oil production at its current pace.

Prices of longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising. The 10-year was up 20/32 to yield 3.6%, and the 30-year was adding 1-8/32, yielding 4.19%. The dollar was softening against the euro, yen and pound. Gold lost $10.50 to settle at $792.

Overseas, European indices, such as London's FTSE and Frankfurt's Dax, were mainly trading lower. In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong likewise lost ground.