Updated from 4:08 p.m. EST
Stocks closed sharply lower Thursday as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and weaker-than-expected domestic economic data kept buyers sidelined all session.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 192.08 points, or 1.42%, to 13,359.61, while the
lost 21.39 points, or 1.43%, to 1476.27. The
was off 47.62 points, or 1.75%, at 2676.79.
Breadth was decidedly negative. On the
New York Stock Exchange
, 2.31 billion shares changed hands, and volume on the Nasdaq reached 1.40 billion shares. Losers outpaced winners 3 to 1.
Equities were under pressure in part because of violence in south Asia, where Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister, was killed by a gunman and bomber at a political rally.
Gold futures topped $830 an ounce and crude oil closed in on $97 a barrel after the news of her death. U.S. Treasury prices rallied, as well, with the 10-year note rising 22/32 in price, yielding 4.19%. The 30-year bond jumped 1-6/32 in price, yielding 4.60%.
There was also disappointment on the economic front after the Commerce Department said durable goods orders rose an anemic 0.1% last month, compared with expectations of a 2.5% increase.
In another report, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims unexpectedly rose by 1,000 claims last week to 349,000 claims. Economists had expected claims would fall to 340,000. The four-week moving average slipped by 1,000 to 342,500.
A slight bit of good news came from the Conference Board, whose December consumer confidence index rose to 88.6 from a revised 87.8 in November. Economists anticipated a slight decline to 87.
"There's been a whole series of bad news coming out, and given thin holiday volume, it's easy to push the market down," said Edgar Peters, chief investment strategist with Pan Agora. "There's a bad negative tone as the economic data are weak, but isn't weak enough to ensure a
Federal Reserve rate cut. It's simply a buyer's strike today."
Financials were in the spotlight after Goldman Sachs increased its writedown projections for
. The firm now expects a combined $33.6 billion in fourth-quarter writedowns to be announced.
Citigroup finished down 2.9%, Merrill was off 2.5%, and JPMorgan shed 2.9%. Subsector indices retreated, with the Amex Securities Broker/Dealer Index falling 2.1% and the NYSE Financial Sector Index decreasing 1.6%.
Elsewhere, Fitch Ratings said it has placed the credit ratings for residential mortgage-backed securities backed by bond insurers on watch for a possible downgrade.
Among those that could be affected are 87 securities insured by
, 64 by
and 19 by
Security Capital Assurance
. MBIA was 0.7% higher, while Ambac and Security Capital gave up ground.
Also in the sector, shares of
, commonly known as Sallie Mae, ended down 11.2% after the lender said it will sell $2.5 billion in common stock in order to buy out certain liabilities. SLM dropped $2.48 to $19.65.
hit a record $202.96 before ending down 38 cents, or 0.2%, to $198.57. The move came after the stock crossed the $200 level for the first time during the prior session.
Following the close, the company said it has a deal in place with
to offer movie rentals over the Internet through its iTunes digital media service.
Overseas markets were mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 1%, and Japan's Nikkei lost 0.6% overnight. Among European bourses, London's FTSE 100 tacked on 0.3%, and Germany's Xetra Dax rose 0.5%.