Stocks Finish Mostly Lower on Weak Data

Stocks floundered Friday as the recent discouraging economic data heightened recovery concerns. Gregg Greenberg has The Real Story.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stocks finished mostly lower on Friday as the recent discouraging reads on manufacturing activity and labor markets heightened recovery concerns, prompting investors to ditch risky assets.

But the closing numbers were markedly better than the session's worst levels, and the

Nasdaq

even got enough of a late lift from favorable earnings reports to cobble together a positive finish.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 58 points, or 0.6%, to end at 10,214 and the

S&P 500

shed 4 points, or 0.4%, to close at 1,072. Both indices finished down on the week, by 0.9% and 0.7%, respectively. The

Nasdaq

, which was down nearly 20 points at its low for the session, ended just shy of a point higher, up 0.04% at 2,180 and up by 0.3% for the week.

Friday's weakness was largely attributed to lingering concerns from the previous session when stocks endured a steep selloff following dismal regional manufacturing data and a surprise jump in initial jobless claims to 500,000.

Global markets were predominantly lower overnight as the rest of the world reacted to Thursday's disappointing data. The negative momentum, as well as an absence of any new economic reports on Friday, led investors to set aside a round of positive earnings reports for most of the session, and the Dow was down more than a hundred points at one point.

"I think the market is starting to catch up with the weak economic news," said Kevin Pianko, partner at WeiserMazars LLP.

Near the end of the session, however, the Nasdaq was able to climb above 2,182 at its high for the day. Standouts among the techs included

Marvell Technology

(MRVL) - Get Report

, rising nearly 10% after its strong second-quarter earnings, and

Intuit

(INTU) - Get Report

, which leapt roughly 13% after posting a narrower than expected loss for the fourth quarter, and unveiling a $2 billion buyback program.

Also

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

shares edged higher after the computer maker topped expectations by 2 cents with earnings of 32 cents a share and reported sales of $15.53 billion, compared with estimates for revenue of $15.21 billion during the second quarter. Its stock rose 0.3% to close at $12.07.

Shares of Dow component

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

were weak after the company confirmed its previously announced earnings outlook after Thursday's closing bell. HP had projected earnings of $1.08 a share on sales of $30.7 billion on Aug. 6 when it announced the resignation of CEO Mark Hurd. Shares lost 2.3% to finish the week at $39.83.

Although the recent earnings reports have been respectable, Pianko said profit growth in the calendar second quarter has largely stemmed from cost-cutting and that increases won't continue without top-line growth -- a problem since consumers are still reticent to spend.

"I think the market will continue to trend downward until there's less uncertainty regarding changes to the tax structure. Once we get some clarity, then we'll start to see people putting their money back to work," he said.

Also on Friday, Paolo Pellegrini informed investors in his hedge fund that he would be returning their money by Sept. 30, according to a

CNBC

report, becoming the second money manager to call it quits this week because of the challenging economic environment. On Aug. 18, legendary hedge fund manager

Stanley Druckenmiller announced the closure of his fund, citing frustration at not being able to live up to past performance.

Overseas on Friday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.4% higher and Japan's Nikkei fell 2%. The FTSE in London lost 0.3%, and the DAX in Frankfurt declined by 1.2%.

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The Economy

There are no economic releases scheduled for Friday's session.

>>Overview

>>Company News

>>Commodities and the Dollar

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Company News

Although Hewlett-Packard was the Dow's worst-performer, tech components

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

were among the session's best performers after

Travelers

(TRV) - Get Report

,

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

and

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

.

Tesla Motors

(TSLA) - Get Report

plans to buy equipment and parts from the former NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif. for $15 million. The stock rose 1.7% to $19.10.

Shares of

Whirlpool

(WHR) - Get Report

surrendered 0.6% to $77.57 following news of another round of layoffs at the company's refrigerator plant in Fort Smith, Ark. The cuts will begin in October once production of counter-depth refrigerators ends but the appliance maker didn't specify how many positions would be eliminated.

J.M. Smucker

(SJM) - Get Report

surpassed expectations with earnings of $1.04 a share although sales of $1.047 billion fell short of the consensus target for revenue of $1.07 billion. Additionally, the company reiterated year-end earnings of $4.50 to $4.60 a share and raised its sales target to slightly above previous guidance for 3% growth. The stock gained 2.8% to $59.63.

Shares of

Hormel Foods

(HRL) - Get Report

were down by 0.2% at $43.46 as adjusted earnings of 63 cents a share surpassed the profit of 59 cents that Wall Street had been expecting. Meanwhile, sales rose 10% to $1.7 billion and Hormel raised year-end adjusted earnings guidance to a range of $2.85 to $2.91 a share from its previous range of $2.75 to $2.85 a share.

Women's retailer

AnnTaylor Stores

(ANN)

met analysts' profit estimates with second-quarter earnings of 32 cents a share. Sales rose 2.8% to $483.5 million while same-store sales increased 6.1% during the quarter. CEO Kay Krill also announced an expansion of the company's existing share repurchase authorization to $400 million "resulting in nearly $260 million currently available under the authorization," she said, according to a statement. The stock was down by 2.8% to $15.90.

Nordstrom

(JWN) - Get Report

announced the authorization of a repurchase program of up to $500 million of its outstanding common stock through Jan. 28. 2010. Shares added 1.9% to $31.77.

BHP Billiton

(BHP) - Get Report

formally launched its offer to holders of fertilizer company

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan

(POT)

to tender their shares for $130 a piece in cash. Potash said it would review the roughly $39-billion offer but advised shareholders not to take any action as the company tries to find counteroffers, according to a

Wall Street Journal

report. BHP shares rose 0.7% to $67.40 while Potash's stock was ticked 0.4% higher to $149.43.

Britain's

Dana Petroleum

said South Korea's state-run

Korea National Oil

launched a hostile cash bid for Dana that amounts to roughly $2.9 billion.

>>Overview

>>The Economy

>>Commodities and the Dollar

>>Treasuries

Commodities and the Dollar

Crude oil for October delivery lost 95 cents, or 1.3%, to settle at $73.82 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the December gold contract shed $5.70, or 0.5%, to settle at $1,228.80 an ounce.

The dollar rose higher against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.8%.

>>Overview

>>The Economy

>>Company News

>>Treasuries

Treasuries

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 11/32, lifting the yield to 2.614%.

The two-year note was largely unchanged with a slightly higher yield of 0.491%. The 30-year bond was lower by 6/32, raising the yield to 3.662%.

--Written by Melinda Peer in New York

.

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>>The Economy

>>Company News

>>Commodities and the Dollar

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