Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stocks retreat; Dow off by 37

NEW YORK — Stocks pulled back Monday as traders retreated from a rally that brought indexes to their highest levels since the peak of the financial crisis in September 2008.
Gold crossed $1,400 an ounce to another record on Monday as traders looked for safe places to park money.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 37.24, or 0.3 percent, to close at 11,406.84. It surged 2.9 percent last week after the Federal Reserve announced a $600 billion stimulus package for the U.S. economy.

The Standard and Poor's 500 index fell 2.60, or 0.2 percent, to 1,223.25.

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The Nasdaq composite index continued to outperform other market measures, as it has done all year, edging up 1.07, or 0.04 percent, to 2,580.05. The technology-focused index is up 13.7 percent for the year, compared with a 9.4 percent gain for the Dow and a 9.7 gain for the S&P 500.

Financial companies were down the most among the 10 industry groups that make up the S&P 500 index. Technology, energy and materials companies were the only groups in the index to show meager gains.

"Today is shaping up to be a modest sell-off, and that's to be expected," said Barnaby Levin, a managing director at HighTower Advisors.

Earnings lifted stocks

Stocks have risen in recent weeks on better-than-expected corporate earnings reports and the introduction of a bond-buying program by the Federal Reserve that is intended to stimulate the economy by driving interest rates lower and encouraging spending.

The dollar rose 0.5 percent against a broad basket of currencies. That's a negative for big U.S. companies such as Caterpillar Inc. that do a lot of business overseas, since a stronger dollar makes their products more expensive in other countries. Caterpillar was off 0.5 percent, and Boeing Co., another big exporter, was off 1.5 percent, putting it in a tie with Travelers Cos. for biggest laggard among the 30 companies that make up the Dow.

Despite weakness in other financial stocks, shares of Bank of America Corp. rose 1.9 to make it the best performing company among the Dow 30, followed by Hewlett Packard Co. and Cisco Systems Inc.

The euro fell 0.8 percent from recent highs, in part on renewed concerns about the debt burdens of the weaker economies among countries that use the Euro. Ireland announced Thursday that it would raise taxes and seek additional cuts in government services to rein in its deficit.

Yields on 10-year Irish bonds rose sharply in response. U.S. markets had swooned this spring over concerns that a fiscal crisis in Greece would spread to Portugal, Spain and other weak economies in the euro zone.

Prices for Treasury bonds fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond rose slightly to 2.55 percent, from 2.53 percent late Friday.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on Monday defended the central bank's stimulus program in a meeting at the New York Society of Security Analysts. Bullard said that the pace of economic recovery had slowed, which made deflation, rather than inflation, a greater concern for the Fed.

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