The stock market pared a portion of its losses in the last hour of trading, but still ended way lower bringing to a close what's been a real stinker of a week. The major indices were led to losses by a breakdown in brokerages and banks and significant weakness across most technology sectors.
Ongoing concerns about slowing economic growth and recent profit warnings from a litany of companies tag-teamed the market today with third-quarter earnings reporting season waiting in the wings.
Today's weakest stocks were the brokerages, which were getting hit by rumors of trading losses on junk bond desks.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
was off 8.7%,
was down 8%,
was off 4%, and
was off 4.8%.
American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index
was down 5.5%. The banks were down in sympathy with those losses; the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index
was off 3.6%.
Big-cap technology stocks -- which for a while were fighting the good fight -- seemed to have given up the ghost and were collapsing along with Internet, fiber optics and semiconductors, all of which were leading the way down.
was off 2.4%, and
Nasdaq Stock Market's most active, was off 2.6%.
New York Stock Exchange's most active stock, was also under pressure after a downgrade by
Salomon Smith Barney
Is there any safe place? Not really -- just six of 30 stocks on the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
are in positive territory. The
Dow Jones Utility Average
, for what it's worth, was up 1%.
Back to top
Retailers were having a hard time of it today after a sales warning by
, the home improvement retailer. That stock was down 3.1%, and Dow component
Fiber-optics companies -- generally volatile stocks -- were getting hammered.
dropped 3.9% and
Back to top
Bonds have recovered to post significant gains thanks to the weakness in stocks. Falling stock prices are seen as a leading indicator of economic activity. They also make bonds more appealing as an alternative investment.
Earlier, bond prices fell as investors concluded that the September
) makes the
Fed less likely to ease up on interest rates in the near future.
The September jobs report measured a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.9% -- matching the 30-year low it hit in April -- from 4.1% in August. A low unemployment rate is a key indicator of a healthy economy, or one that does not require assistance from the Fed in the form of easier monetary policy.
Also indicating that the economy is strong, the employment report counted 252,000 new nonfarm jobs in September. Netting out the loss of 27,000 temporary Census jobs and the return of 75,000 strikers, the underlying increase was 204,000 -- in line with the recent trend. A shift in monetary policy is unlikely to occur unless there is a pronounced slowdown in the pace of job-creation.
The benchmark 10-year
Treasury note lately was flat at 99 15/32, lifting its yield to 5.820%.
Back to top