Posted: 01 July 2009 0558 hrs

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

NEW YORK: Wall Street shares ended the second quarter in a slump on Tuesday after a surprise fall in consumer confidence dented hopes that spending will lead the country out of recession.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 82.38 points (0.97 percent) to close at 8,447.00.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 9.02 points (0.49 percent) to 1,835.04 and the broad-market Standard & Poor's 500 retreated 7.91 points (0.85 percent) to finish at 919.32.

"The main culprit is an unexpected drop in consumer confidence, ending a two-month winning streak in that index," Charles Schwab & Co. analysts said in a client note.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said its consumer confidence index retreated to 49.3 points in June from a revised 54.8 in May.

Most analysts expected a much stronger reading of 55.3 points in the 100-point index.

Stocks turned sharply lower as investors digested the surprising decline in confidence which suggested recession-weary consumers were not ready to open their wallets to boost the spending that drives two-thirds of US economic activity.

"This latest setback in consumer sentiment does not auger well for any near-term revival in consumer spending," said Brian Bethune of IHS Global Insight.

Bethune warned that the government's massive economic stimulus efforts may "run the risk of engineering the biggest fiscal stimulus 'dud in post-World War II history."

"Despite the huge cash incentives being dangled in front of consumers to purchase homes - and prospectively to trade in gas-guzzling auto clunkers - households are not going for the bait," he said.

Still, the major indices ended the second quarter with robust gains. The blue-chip Dow jumped 11 percent in the past three months, the Nasdaq surged 20 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 15 percent.

Investors digested a raft of data in the holiday-shortened week, with the market closed on Friday for the July 4 Independence Day celebration.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index showed the decline in housing prices in the 20 top US cities slowed in April, to a drop of 18.1 percent, from a year ago.

Retail sales at chain stores rose in the past by the strongest gain since late January, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported.

Investors were focused on Thursday's unemployment report, which is widely expected to show the jobless rate climbed to 9.6 percent in June, up from 9.4 percent in May.

"The heavy burden of all of the people who have no jobs will bring down consumer spending and retail revenue, adding to this government's obligations as it struggles more and more with its growing debt load which will be compounded by falling tax revenue," said Douglas McIntyre of 24/

Among stocks in focus, United Technologies dropped 0.97 percent to 51.96 dollars and Caterpillar skidded 4.89 percent to 33.04 dollars.

ExxonMobil shed 0.95 percent to 69.91 dollars and Chevron slid 0.94 percent to 66.25 dollars as crude oil prices headed lower.

Walt Disney dipped 1.39 percent to 23.33 dollars after the entertainment giant and the Hong Kong government on Tuesday reached an agreement to expand the city's beleaguered Disneyland amusement park.

The bond market weakened. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond rose to 3.523 percent from 3.492 percent on Monday and that on the 30-year bond advanced to 4.311 percent from 4.307 percent. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions. - AFP/de

From; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Post a Comment