Oil rose to its best level since Oct. 2, gold established its highest level since June 1997 and the corporate news was heavily weighted to the negative. In a nutshell, that's everything you need to know about how stocks fared on Wednesday. For fans of detail, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell steadily throughout the session, ending down 1% to 8447.35, although off its earlier low of 8407.72. Similarly, the S&P 500 closed down 1.3% to 891.12 after having traded as low as 887.82. The Nasdaq Composite shed 2.2% to 1361.50 vs. its nadir of 1355.60. The Comp was relatively weak largely because of weakness in semiconductor stocks following a much-wider-than-expected loss from Micron Technology ( MU), which tumbled 22.5%. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index fell 7.1% to 297.80, breaking the psychologically significant 300 barrier. Stock proxies were further waylaid by lackluster results from FedEx ( FDX), which dipped 1.3%; warnings by Activision ( ATVI), down 19.3%, and Blockbuster ( BBI), which fell 32.3%; and Bank of New York ( BK), down 15.1%, announcing it will set aside $390 million to cover losses from aircraft lease contracts with UAL ( UAL). Even Halliburton ( HAL) shed 4.2% despite announcing a settlement its asbestos claims litigation. Elsewhere, Conseco ( CNC) submitted the third-largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.
Gold Bug Heaven
Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan ( JPM) fell 4.1% (vs. a 1.7% decline for the Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index) and Barrick Gold ( ABX) dipped 0.6% after a gold dealer filed suit charging the firms with conspiring to suppress the price of gold and of violating antitrust laws. "Barrick dismisses allegations of antitrust behavior as ludicrous and without merit and will vigorously pursue its legal rights and remedies," a company spokesman said late Wednesday. "Barrick hasn't had the opportunity to review the complaint in detail but the press release announcing the lawsuit contains numerous factual inaccuracies and defamatory statements."