Dow Closes Higher; S&P 500, Nasdaq Dip


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. stock averages booked a mixed finish Thursday after a raft of data from both the United States and abroad put a damper on investor sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 19 points, or 0.14%, at 13,597. The blue-chip index, which began the session up close to 11% year to date, was down roughly 75 points at its session low.

Breadth within the Dow reflected the seesaw action with winners edging losers, 17 to 13. The biggest percentage gainers were Chevron ( CVX), Exxon Mobil ( XOM), Kraft Foods ( KFT), Microsoft ( MSFT), and Pfizer ( PFE), all rising more than 1%.

Wal-Mart ( WMT) shares edged up 0.51% following a Reuters report that the world's largest retailer has decided to stop selling Amazon's ( AMZN) Kindle products. Amazon shares closed down 0.33%.

Leading Dow decliners included Alcoa ( AA), Caterpillar ( CAT), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and United Technologies ( UTX).

Bank of America ( BAC) shares finished down 1.1% following a report that the bank has set a target of cutting 16,000 jobs by the end of 2012 as it accelerates a broad cost-cutting plan.

The job cuts were outlined in a document given to top management, and are part of a larger effort to retool the bank into a leaner and more focused enterprise amid an environment of declining revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The S&P 500 lost less than a point, or 0.05%, to settle at 1460, while the Nasdaq gave back 7 points, or 0.21%, to finish at 3176.

The weakest sectors in the broad market were transportation, consumer cyclicals, capital goods and basic materials. Health care, consumer non-cyclicals and utilities were in the green.

Decliners were ahead of advancers by a ratio of about 1.5-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. Volume was tepid, totaling 3.39 billion on the Big Board and 1.81 billion on the Nasdaq.

The major averages are sitting near multi-year highs after the announcement of extensive quantitative easing programs by both the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve, but the global economic data released Thursday was less than encouraging.

The HSBC Flash China manufacturing purchasing managers' index showed manufacturing in China shrank for the 11th straight month in September, with the headline reading remaining below the 50 mark between contraction and expansion. The headline print rose to 47.8 from 47.6 in August.

Meanwhile, Markit Economics said that the eurozone composite PMI, which includes data points on both the manufacturing and services sectors, declined to 45.9 from 46.3 in August, the lowest level since June 2009.

A small bright spot was Germany, where manufacturing, though still indicating contraction, came in at its highest level since March.

The Spanish Treasury was able to sell €4.8 billion ($6.2 billion) of three- and 10-year bonds amid strong investor demand, even with the nation's bailout plans remaining unclear.

The FTSE in London closed down 0.57% and the DAX in Germany finished down 0.02%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed down by 1.20% and the Nikkei in Japan finished declined 1.57% on Thursday.

Meantime, the Labor Department reported initial jobless claims for the week ended Sept. 15 fell 3,000 to 382,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 385,000. Economists were expecting a level of 375,000.

The four-week moving average was 377,750, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average of 375,750.

Continuing claims during the week ended Sept. 8 were 3.272 million, a decrease of 32,000 from the preceding week's upwardly revised level of 3.304 million. The expected level was 3.293 million.

"We believe that there has been little change in the underlying pace of layoffs during the first half of September," said RBS economists in a note. "However, ongoing uncertainty could be dampening hiring, which would keep payroll growth soft in the coming months."

In more PMI data, the Markit flash U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers' index was unchanged at 51.5 in September.

In other economic data, the Philadelphia Fed Index increased 5 points, to a reading of -1.9 in September, marking the fifth consecutive negative reading for the index but edging nearer to zero over the last three months. Economists were expecting a reading of -4.

The Conference Board's leading economic index for the U.S. declined 0.1% in August to 95.7, following a 0.5% increase in July. Expectations by economists were for levels to be unchanged.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 3/32, diluting the yield to 1.769%. The greenback gained 0.40%, according to the dollar index.

November crude oil futures settled up 12 cents at $92.42 a barrel. December gold futures settled down $1.50 at $1,770.20.

In corporate news, market research firm IHS ( IHS ) saw its shares tumble 17.8% after the company reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that increased 8% year over year but still missed analysts' expectations as its non-subscription business softened in the face of an uncertain economy.

Adobe Systems ( ADBE), the publishing and design software developer, posted an in-line profit Wednesday for its fiscal third quarter but revenue of $1.081 billion was below the consensus view of $1.103 billion.

For its fourth quarter ending in November, Adobe forecast non-GAAP earnings of 53 cents to 58 cents a share, far short of the average analysts' view for a profit of 67 cents a share.

Shares closed up 4.2%.

Bed, Bath & Beyond ( BBBY), the home products retailer, missed Wall Street's second-quarter earnings expectations in its report issued Wednesday. Shares declined 9.9%.

Norfolk Southern ( NSC ) shares fell 9.1% after the Virginia-based railway company provided third-quarter earnings expectations that fell short of Wall Street targets, citing weaker volumes as well as weaker revenue from fuel surcharges.


--Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

If you liked this article you might like

Forecast for S&P 500, Dow Industrials Remains Bullish, These Charts Show

Forecast for S&P 500, Dow Industrials Remains Bullish, These Charts Show

Dow 20,000! It Should Mean Nothing to Investors, but Then Again...

Dow 20,000! It Should Mean Nothing to Investors, but Then Again...

Tradebird Investors Are Bullish on U.S. Stocks but Bearish on the Euro

Tradebird Investors Are Bullish on U.S. Stocks but Bearish on the Euro

Why Home Depot and Boeing Stock Fell Tuesday

Why Home Depot and Boeing Stock Fell Tuesday