In typical New York fashion, many traders said
when it came to the stock market today. Trading was choppy and volume light as many opted to start the holiday weekend a little earlier.
Who could blame them after the last few trading sessions? In the past week, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
shed 327.61 points, or 3.1% while the
Nasdaq Composite Index
gave up 185.25, or 5.3% in lackluster action marked by aimless swings, thin volume and rallies that quickly crumbled.
Even on the days when futures looked solid in morning action -- and there were a number this week -- the market failed to deliver and the headfakes are beginning to try investor patience.
"This is kind of more of the same. We've had the summer doldrums for a few months and its only May," said John Babyak, portfolio manager at
WHB/Wolverine Asset Management
in Stamford, Conn. "There is no direction right now. Who is going to step up to buy," he said, characterizing his own buying as more like "nibbling" than anything else.
On the bright side, the Dow and the Nasdaq Comp staged a very late-day rally that brought both indices off their lows. The Comp finished the day off 0.2, or 0.01%, at 3205.15 after bouncing in a negative, but narrow range throughout the day. At its intraday low, it was off around 46 points.
The Dow lost 24.68, or 0.2%, to 10,299.24, after a failed attempt to break even in the market's closing moments. The
fell 3.49, or 0.3%, to 1378.03 while the small-cap
edged up 1.2, or 0.3%, to 457.37.
"It's just a continuation of the trend that we've seen. Interest rate concerns are pretty much hitting every industry," right now, said Brian Conroy, head of listed trading at
. Even the days that that opened with hopes up on higher futures quickly eroded, he noted.
Conroy said yesterday's negative comments on
earnings outlook provided a "reality check for the financial sector," noting that financial stocks are the "backbone of the market."
He also noted the weakness in the retailing sector, marked by a series of earnings misses, another of which hit today and pulled much of the sector down with it. The
S&P Retail Index
Trouble stemmed from
, which got worked over by investors after it warned that its second-quarter earnings will miss the consensus estimate of 24 cents, by 4 cents to 6 cents a share.
The company said profits were squeezed by a strong dollar, which reduced the value of foreign sales as well as weaker same-store sales. The stock plummeted 30.4%.
Related retailers were also feeling the pain with
getting clipped 7%. Electronic retailers
also lost some power. Circuit City fell 9%, while Best Buy lost 10.8%.
rose 3% after
Credit Suisse First Boston
added the stock to its focus list and rated it a strong buy.
lost its earlier steam, slipping 0.5% after early gaining more than 5%.
said it was optimistic about the company's optical business. Other telecommunications giants performed well, including
up 2.5% and
Internet stocks were mixed, with
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
squeezing out a 5.46-point, or 0.7%, gain. For the week, the DOT lost 8.7%.
The S&P 500 lost 2.1% in the latest week, the Russell 2000 lost 4.7%, the
Dow Jones Transportation Average
braked 2%, the
Dow Jones Utility Average
slipped 0.3% and the
American Stock Exchange Composite Index
Rays of Hope?
But amid all the gloom and doom, some are predicting there may be some light ahead. Babyak said that while no one is eager to attempt calling a bottom on this market, there "are some signs that we're nearing a bottom," noting a dampening in volatility as we pull back and test the lows.
"It's almost like the market is wringing out the excess. Every time we get a rally, there is some short covering. The destructive nature of this market is lessening. That would portend a bottom," he said. "It might take a week or it might take two months, but we are going to have a rally at some point."
Breadth was slightly positive on the Big Board and negative on the Nasdaq on thin volume.
New York Stock Exchange:
1,491 advancers, 1,352 decliners, 725.09 million shares. 36 new 52-week highs, 87 new lows.
Nasdaq Stock Market:
1,752 advancers, 2,142 decliners, 1.050 million shares. 17 new highs, 235 new lows.