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Published: Monday, 7/16/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Report of a third straight month of weak consumer spending sends stocks lower on Wall Street

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — Stocks slipped today on Wall Street after a disappointing report on retail spending by U.S. consumers.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 53 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,724 at 12:30 Toledo time.

It was the third straight month that retail sales fell. The Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.5 percent in June from the month before as Americans spent less on autos, furniture and appliances.

The latest figures are worrisome because the last time consumer spending fell for three straight months was during the fall of 2008, at the depth of the global financial crisis.

Companies that rely heavily on spending by consumers were among the weakest on the New York Stock Exchange. Home Depot fell 60 cents to $51.49 and Lowe’s Cos. lost 83 cents to $25.89.

Industrial stocks also fell sharply. General Electric lost 26 cents to $19.51 and heavy equipment maker Caterpillar lost $1.27 to $80.80, one of the biggest losses among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow average.

Markets were also taking a hit after the International Monetary Fund lowered its estimate for global economic growth. The global lender said it expects the world economy to expand 3.5 percent this year, down from its previous estimate of 3.6 percent in April.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell four points to 1,353 and the Nasdaq composite index fell nearly nine points to 2,899.

Comments from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao over the weekend were also weighing on the market. Wen said his country’s economy has not yet entered a recovery and “economic difficulties may continue for some time.” Some of the weakness in China comes from the debt crisis in Europe, which has crippled spending on imported goods.

In Europe, borrowing rates for Italy and Spain rose again, the latest signal that bond investors are leery of the finances of those countries. Stocks fell 2 percent in Spain and 0.4 percent in Italy. Benchmark indexes in Germany and France were flat.

The U.S. corporate earnings season resumes in earnest this week with reports from major companies that cover a wide span of the economy. On deck Tuesday are Harley-Davidson, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, and Johnson & Johnson. Intel and Yahoo also report this week.

Other stocks making big moves included:

— Visa rose $2.54 to $126.63 and MasterCard rose $8.09 to $437.69. The two giant payment processing companies, along with major banks, settled a seven-year old lawsuit with merchants over fees they charge when customers pay with credit cards.

— Par Pharmaceutical jumped $13.42 to $50. The generic drug maker agreed to be acquired for $1.84 billion in cash by the private investment firm TPG. The offer was a 37 percent premium to Friday’s closing price.



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