Updated from 4:04 p.m. EST
Stocks closed lower for the fifth session in a row Tuesday, with the
posting their longest losing streak in 13 months while the
once again traded below the 2000 level, as investors continued to worry about valuations in the context of a tighter monetary environment.
The Dow lost 43.25 points to 10,566.37; the Nasdaq Composite shed 2.08 points to 2005.44, after falling as low as 1,991.05; and the S&P 500 lost 1.90 points, ending at 1139.09.
Volume on the
New York Stock Exchange
was 1.5 billion shares, and despite today's losses, advancing and declining shares were about even. Some 2 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq, where decliners beat out advancers by 5 to 4.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq is now below its closing level of Jan. 2, the first trading day of the new year. The Nasdaq last closed below 2000 on Dec. 26 and has lost ground in each of the past five weeks, after hitting a 31-month high in January.
Mark Sellers, an equity strategist at Morningstar, attributed the market declines to lowered valuations and profit-taking in the face of the
late January decision to drop its policy language of keeping interest rates low for a "considerable period."
"We've had very loose monetary policy for a while, which means that people have cash to throw into the stock market; with rates so low, there's nowhere else to put it," Sellers said. "Now, if rates go up, then at the margin, people will put more money into fixed-income and less money into stocks, so the market, anticipating that, has to factor that into stock valuations. So there is a correction under way to some degree."
Overseas markets were mostly lower, with London's FTSE 100 down 0.5% to 4502 and Germany's Xetra DAX off 1.5% to 4010. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 2.1% overnight to 10,644, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.1% to 13,778.
The 10-year note was up 3/32s to yield 4.02%, while the dollar was weaker against the euro and roughly unchanged against the yen.
On Tuesday, sector bellwether
CEO said 2004 revenue growth will be consistent with overall industry growth of about 15%. The estimate, first reported by a Japanese newspaper, implies revenue in the current quarter near the middle of Intel's forecast for sales in a range of $7.9 billion to $8.5 billion. Intel's stock closed up 20 cents, or 0.7%, to $29.20.
Fourth-quarter earnings at
shot up a better-than-expected 40% from a year ago and the home-supply chain reiterated sales guidance for 2004. Atlanta-based Home Depot earned $951 million, or 42 cents a share, in the latest quarter compared with earnings of $686 million, or 30 cents a share, last year. Sales rose 14.5% to $15.13 billion on a 7.6% year-over-year increase in same-store sales.
Home Depot shares closed up 61 cents, or 1.7%, to $35.99.
Securities and Exchange Commission
and the New York attorney general brought civil fraud charges against the Columbia Management unit of
FleetBoston Financial Corp.
, alleging that the firm allowed improper trading of several of its mutual funds. Fleet's shares closed down 3 cents to $44.95.
Meanwhile, investors digested developments in Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin dismissed Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and his cabinet. Putin said the move was made in anticipation of March 14 presidential elections and reflected his "position on the issue of what development course the country will take."
Also weighing on sentiment was the Conference Board's consumer confidence index, which came in at 87.3, well short of the 92.3 consensus of economists, and down sharply from the previous month.
After characterizing U.S. household debt levels as manageable in a speech on Monday, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday that quasi-public mortgage giants
could pose a threat to the financial system. Greenspan called on Congress to impose strict regulations on the companies' ability to issue debt and purchase assets.
On Wednesday, earnings reports are due in the morning from
On the economic front, the National Association of Realtors reports existing-home sales figures for January. Analysts are forecasting an annualized rate of 6.45 million units, compared with 6.7 million in December.