Stocks Fall on Fed Skepticism; Most Dow Shares Decline


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks fell Thursday after a Federal Reserve official cast doubt on the possibility of further central bank accommodation, while a jobs report showed unexpected deterioration.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said during an interview with CNBC that the Federal Open Market Committee minutes released Wednesday were "a bit stale ... we have some data since then that is stronger."

Meanwhile, the technology sector provided a headwind for the broad market with Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) shares sinking after the No. 1 PC maker tempered its outlook and missed on the top line in its latest quarterly report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 115 points, or 0.9%, at 13,057. The blue-chip index, which began the session up about 7% this year, has fallen in the past three sessions.

Breadth was overwhelmingly negative on the Dow, with losers edging winners by 26 to 4. The biggest percentage losers were Hewlett-Packard, Boeing ( BA), Alcoa ( AA) and Intel ( INTC). Only Pfizer ( PFE), AT&T ( T), Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) and Kraft ( KFT) were trading higher.

HP's shares declined 8.1% after the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company posted revenue that trailed Wall Street analysts' consensus forecast in the third quarter, weighed down by declining PC and printer sales.

The company also said it now expects full-year earnings of $4.05 to $4.07 a share, at the low end of its previous outlook.

The S&P 500 dipped 11 points, or 0.8%, at 1,402.

The Nasdaq was lost 20 points, or 0.66%, at 3053.

All sectors in the broader market were down, with the weakest being technology, transportation, capital goods and basic materials.

Decliners were outpacing advancers by about 2-to-1 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange and on the Nasdaq. August volumes remained very thin, with 2.97 billion shares changing hands on the Big Board and 1.37 billion shares in play on the Nasdaq.

The Labor Department reported initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 18 rose 4,000 to 372,000, spiking to a one-month high, from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 368,000. Economists on average thought claims would total 365,000. The four-week moving average is now 368,000, an increase of 3,750 from the previous week's average of 364,250.

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