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While you were sleeping: BusinessWire weekend wrap

Monday 4th August 2008

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Shares in the US ended lower on Friday after a massive quarterly loss from GM unnerved investors about the outlook for corporate earnings and the latest jobs report suggested that the world's biggest economy may yet fall into recession.

GM, the largest US car maker, posted a $US15.5 billion loss on plunging domestic sales.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 51.70 points, or 0.45%, at 11,326.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 7.07 points, or 0.56%, at 1,260.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 14.59 points, or 0.63%, at 2,310.96.

For the week, the Dow ended down 0.4%, the S&P closed up 0.2% and the Nasdaq ended flat.

Also weighing on sentiment was crude oil, which rose $1.02 to $125.10 a barrel in New York after Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said Iran was heading toward a major breakthrough in its nuclear program.

On Nasdaq, the biggest drag came from biotech Biogen, whose stock slid more than 28% to $50.01 on renewed safety concerns about its multiple sclerosis drug.

Shares of Sun Microsystems, the world's fourth-biggest business computer maker, lost 12.3% to $9.32 after warning about its business outlook.

Earnings have slumped by an average 20% in the second quarter for the 352 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results so far, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Companies have trailed analysts' estimates by an average of 5.2%, even as the majority beat projections.

Key earnings set to be released on Tuesday include Cisco Systems, Procter & Gamble and American International Group.

Europe, Asia feel chill

While the US economy shed more jobs in July, it did so at a slower rate than most economists had forecast, giving a boost to the greenback. In contrast, reports across Europe and Asia suggested that the credit crisis which has hammered US companies and consumers was spreading faster around the globe.

The US dollar increased 0.3% to $1.5551 per euro at 4:26pm in New York on Friday, from $1.5603 on Thursday. It touched $1.5515, the strongest since July 24. The dollar dropped 0.2% to 107.70 yen, from 107.91. The euro decreased 0.5% to 167.49 yen, from 168.39.

The pound declined as much as 0.6% to $1.9727, the lowest level since July 10, as an index of British manufacturing dropped in July to the weakest since December 1998.

Bonds were little changed on Friday. Benchmark US 10-year Treasury notes traded 4/32 higher in price for a yield of 3.94% from 3.96% late on Thursday, while 2-year notes were unchanged in price for a yield of 2.51%.

Copper futures for September delivery dropped 8.15¢, or 2.2%, to $3.58 a pound at 9:44 on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. A close at that price would be the biggest one-day decline for a most-active contract since July 8 and leave copper down 0.7% for the week.

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