Stocks close lower after volatile session
NEW YORK » Wall Street staggered through another volatile session yesterday, finally closing mostly lower after a Federal Reserve report showed some economic growth at the end of 2007 and after Intel Corp.'s disappointing profit report.
Stocks gave up a modest rally in the final 20 minutes of trading, continuing the fluctuations seen throughout the session as investors combed corporate profit reports and economic news that supported varying views about the soundness of the economy.
Stocks initially gained after the Fed report -- its Beige Book survey of regional economies -- suggested economic activity increased modestly from mid-November through December, though at a slower pace than in a previous survey.
The report seemed to quell some concerns about pros-pects for the economy that took on fresh urgency after Intel Corp. issued disappointing earnings after the closing bell Tuesday.
The Fed's report bolstered enthusiasm among bullish investors who pointed to better-than-expected results from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. The banks' reports appeared to remind Wall Street that while the fallout of souring loans was widespread, it wasn't necessarily evenly felt.
And buyout news in the tech sector also gave a boost to sentiment.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 34.95, or 0.28 percent, to 12,466.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 7.75, or 0.56 percent, to 1,373.20, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 23.00, or 0.95 percent, to 2,394.59.
Investors remained edgy yesterday, particularly after a drop Tuesday that took the Dow down nearly 280 points. Predictions by some economists that a recession is at hand have rattled Wall Street in recent weeks.
Intel was by far the biggest decliner among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow and also weighed on the tech-dominated Nasdaq. The chip maker fell $2.81, or 12.4 percent, to $19.88.
Advancing issues narrowly outpaced decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 2.11 billion shares compared with 1.53 billion traded Tuesday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.48 percent, or 0.36 percent, to 699.91.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.73 percent from 3.68 percent late Tuesday. The dollar fell against most other major currencies -- hitting a 2 1/2-year low against the yen -- but rose against the euro.
Gold prices, which have hit record levels in recent sessions, eased.
Light, sweet crude settled down $1.06 at $90.84 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The tech arena did see some cheer yesterday, thanks to Oracle Corp.'s deal to buy BEA Systems Inc. for about $7.85 billion. Last year BEA rejected a less-expensive bid from Oracle, which raised its offer but not to the level sought by BEA. BEA Systems jumped $2.88, or 19 percent, to $18.46 after word of its deal. Oracle rose 61 cents, or 3 percent, to $21.92.