Thursday 4th September 2008
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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.96 points, or 0.14%, to 11,532.88, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 2.59 points, or 0.20%, to 1,274.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 15.51 points, or 0.66%, at 2,333.73.
The S&P 500 extended its 2008 slump to more than 13% as the Federal Reserve said business across most of the US was "slow" last month as the housing market weakened.
A continued decline in the price of oil failed to spark optimism, with investors instead calling it yet another symptom of slowing global demand.
A weakening global economy would compound the outlook for corporate America since demand from abroad has served as a lifeline for the US economy as it grapples with the housing slump.
Technology companies were particularly hard-hit.
Shares of Qualcomm, a maker of chips for wireless technology, fell 3.7% after its CEO said consumer cell phone upgrades were slowing, and a JPMorgan analyst cut his forecast for mobile phone sales for the rest of the year, citing economic weakness. Research in Motion, the BlackBerry maker, fell 3%.
Corning cut its third-quarter earnings and sales estimates because television-set makers trimmed orders to work off excess inventory. The shares fell the most since July 2006, dropping 13% to US$17.05.
Crude for October delivery fell as much as US$2.49, or 2.3%, to US$107.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, before settling down 36 cents at US$109.35 a barrel.
General Motors rose on news of a smaller-than-estimated drop in August domestic sales after offering buyers the same discounts it gives employees on most models during the last 12 days of the month.
Home Depot climbed 4.5% after its CEO said the US housing market was nearing a bottom.
Euro interest rates
On the currency markets, economic news ruled the day ahead of two key European rate decisions. The euro fell to the lowest level against the US dollar in more than seven months after European reports showed retail sales and business investment dropped.
The yen rose for a fifth day against the euro and increased to a two-year high versus the New Zealand dollar as signs of a global economic slowdown led investors to sell higher-yielding assets and pay back loans in Japan.
The euro dropped 0.1% to US$1.4508 at 4:07pm in New York, from US$1.4520 yesterday. It touched US$1.4385, the lowest level since January 22. The yen climbed 0.5% to 156.96 per euro from 157.68, after touching 156.26, the strongest level since March 31. Japan's currency advanced 0.4% to 108.19 per dollar, from 108.61.
US Treasury debt prices rose for the second day in a row on Wednesday, pushing benchmark yields down to four-month lows.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes traded 9/32 higher in price for a yield of 3.70% from 3.74% late on Tuesday. Benchmark yields reached to as low as 3.69% on Wednesday, marking the lowest since May 1.
Gold futures for December delivery fell US$2.30, or 0.3%, to US$808.20 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest closing price for a most-active contract since August 18. The metal fell 3% yesterday.
Silver futures for December delivery fell 19.8 cents, or 1.5%, to US$12.947 an ounce on Comex. Silver has fallen 13% this year, while gold is down 3.8%.
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