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While you were sleeping: BusinessWire weekend wrap

Monday 1st September 2008

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Spending worries triggered by a US government report and Dell Inc led Wall Street lower on Friday, with all three major indexes dropping by more than 1%.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 171.47 points, or 1.46%, at 11,543.71. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 17.93 points, or 1.38%, at 1,282.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 44.12 points, or 1.83%, at 2,367.52.

For the month, though, the Dow added 1.5%, while the S&P rose 1.3% and the Nasdaq gained 1.8%.

The US bond market closed early on Friday ahead of the Labor Day holiday, contributing to thin trading volume. US markets will be closed on Monday.

Dell fell 14% to US$21.73 after saying "continued conservatism" from some US customers is spreading to Western Europe and some Asian countries.

Apple Inc, the maker of the iPod media player and Macintosh computer, lost 2.4% to US$169.53 for the biggest drop in a month. Microsoft Corp retreated 2.3% to US$27.29, while Intel Corp, the largest chipmaker, slumped 3.1% to US$22.87.

Technology companies collectively fell 2.5%, the most in two months.

Weakness in technology stocks reflected the consumer having to rein in their spending. Consumer purchases in July rose 0.2%, one-third the pace in June, the Commerce Department said on Friday in Washington, while prices surged the most in 17 years.

The US currency decreased 0.6% to 108.83 yen at 4:12pm in New York on Friday, from 109.50 on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar climbed 0.3% to US$1.4669, from US$1.4706. The euro dropped 0.9% to 159.66 yen, from 161.04.

The greenback rose versus all of the other major currencies this month on speculation the economic slowdown that began in the US is spreading to the rest of the world. The dollar gained 6.4% versus the euro, the best performance since the European currency's debut. It increased 0.8% versus the yen in August, its fifth straight monthly gain.

The ICE futures exchange's Dollar Index, which compares the greenback against the currencies of six major US trading partners, rose 5% this month. It reached 77.619 on August 26, the highest this year.

The Australian dollar fell nearly 9% in August, its worst month since February 1989, according to Reuters data, on expectations of narrowing interest rate differentials between the United States and Australia.

Oil settled down 13 US cents at US$115.46 per barrel even as energy companies began shutting output in the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Gustav approached the region. Earlier, oil had surged above US$118.

December gold futures settled down US$2 at US$835.20 an ounce in New York.

Copper fell, capping the second straight monthly drop, as rising inventories signal slowing demand for the metal used in wire and pipe.

Stockpiles in warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange have climbed to a six-month high of 173,375 metric tons, up 57% since the end of April. The price of copper has tumbled 21% from a record US$4.2605 a pound on May 5.

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