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Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Stocks move lower
on economic reports


NEW YORK >> Wall Street stumbled through a listless session yesterday, closing modestly lower as reports on industrial production and business inventories failed to satisfy investors who had bet on a quick economic rebound.

Stocks struggled to advance on the reports, which showed gradual economic improvement.

"The news is mixed. It appears on balance things are getting better, but you're not getting every indicator that things are positive," said Robert Streed, portfolio manager of Northern Trust Select Equity Fund in Chicago.

"I think what investors need to hear from companies -- but probably won't hear until they report earnings -- is that companies are standing up and saying things are better," he said. "You'll need to hear good news for the market to continue higher from here."

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 22.74, or 0.2 percent, at 9,448.81, having declined 0.3 percent last week to end a five-week winning streak.

The broader market also finished lower. The Nasdaq composite index declined 9.33, or 0.5 percent, to 1,845.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.82, or 0.4 percent, to 1,014.81.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers 5 to 4 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume was light at 1.45 billion shares, compared with 1.55 billion traded Friday.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, fell 1.42, or 0.3 percent, to 507.64..

The NYSE composite index fell 18.82, or 0.3 percent, to 5,730.44. The American Stock Exchange composite index dropped 4.83, or 0.5 percent, to 983.17.

The two-year Treasury note gained 1/32 to 100 2532, with its yield falling to 1.59 percent. The 10-year note dropped 432 to 99 2732, with its yield rising to 4.27 percent.

The Federal Reserve reported yesterday that industrial production rose by 0.1 percent in August. That came after a revised 0.7 percent advance in July; however, analysts expected a gain of 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said business inventories edged lower by 0.1 percent in July, a reading that suggested companies were still wary of increasing supplies. The reading was in line with expectations.

Motorola Inc. dropped 14 cents to $10.70 after SoundView Technology Group lowered the cell phone maker's stock rating to "neutral" from "outperform," citing stiffer competition.

Insurance companies also fell as Hurricane Isabel approached the East Coast, stirring fears of huge property damage. American International Group Inc. dropped $1.20 to $58.85, while Chubb Corp. fell 60 cents to $64.25.

Gainers included home-improvement retailers Home Depot Inc., which rose $1.19 to $32.78, and Lowe's Cos., which advanced $1.25 to $52.70, as consumers stocked up on supplies to prepare for the storm.


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