A surprising decline in U.S. factory orders also put a damper on sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 92 points, or 0.7%, to 12,879. Breadth was extremely negative on the Dow, with only Wal-Mart ( WMT), Caterpillar ( CAT) and McDonald's ( MCD) trading higher. The biggest percentage laggards were Chevron ( CVX), United Technologies ( UTX), 3m ( MMM), Coca-Cola ( KO) and IBM ( IBM). The S&P 500 slumped 10 points, or 0.7%, to 1,365, and the Nasdaq fell 10 points, or 0.4%, to 2,910. The major averages were on pace for their biggest weekly drop in nine weeks. All sectors in the broad market declined. The weakest among them were energy, utilities, conglomerates and financials. Losers were outpacing winners on the New York Stock Exchange 2 to 1 and the Nasdaq by a ratio of about 1.4 to 1. The ECB's Draghi said at a press conference Thursday after a central bank meeting that policymakers may work with governments to buy bonds to ease the continent's debt crisis. Germany, the region's biggest and strongest economy, isn't entirely convinced about the bailout. Draghi said he will design appropriate modalities for policy measures over the next couple of weeks and that concerns of market participants about seniority will be addressed. "These remain promises," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG. "Investors are tired of promises. They want action." "Once again, we have no commitment to action from the ECB, and no execution of promises previously made," said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics. "Nothing seems set to happen now ... Traders and investors who expected immediate action are, and should be, disappointed." Weinberg noted that Draghi's statement about being "really surprised at the amount of attention my remarks last week received in the press," translates to, "I cannot deliver the promises I implied in my London speech last week ... you must have misunderstood me." The euro eased after the ECB announcement, while Spanish and Italian 10-year yields rose. The FTSE in London settled 0.9% lower and the DAX in Germany closed down by 2.2%. The Labor Department said before the markets opened Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ended July 28 increased by 8,000 to 365,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 357,000. The four-week moving average was 365,500, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week's revised average of 368,250. Economists, on average, expected initial jobless claims of 370,000. Continuing claims for the week ended July 21 fell by 19,000 to 3.272 million. Before the jobless claims report, executive outplacement services provider Challenger Gray & Christmas said planned layoffs in the U.S. fell for the second straight month in July, as employers announced job cuts totaling 36,855, down 2% from 37,551 in June. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that factory orders fell 0.5% in June after increasing by a downwardly revised 0.5% in May. Economists predicted June orders would increase by 0.5%.
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks slid Thursday for a fourth straight session after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said little about helping struggling nations a day after the Federal Reserve failed to deliver support to the U.S. economy.
2012 Stock Predictions and Outlook
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