Fresh data refreshes worries on Wall Street


POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

NEW YORK » Two glaring signs that the economy remains in a deep slump sent stocks reeling yesterday.

The U.S. Labor Department said the number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits reached a seasonally adjusted 4.78 million week ending Jan. 17 - the highest level on records that go back to 1967.

Companies across a variety of industries have been slashing their payrolls by the thousands. Starbucks Corp., Eastman Kodak and Allstate Corp. became the latest major employers to announce big job cuts - 7,000 at Starbucks; 3,500 to 4,500 at Kodak; and 1,000 at Allstate.

The Dow industrials fell 226.44, or 2.70 percent, to 8,149.01.

Broader stock indicators also sank. The S&P 500 index fell 28.95, or 3.31 percent, to 845.14, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 50.50, or 3.24 percent, to 1,507.84.

The S&P was coming off its first four-day winning streak since last November.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 19.78, or 4.18 percent, to 453.24.

The number of stocks falling outpaced advancers by 5-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 4.87 billion shares, down from 6.07 billion Wednesday.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, shot up to 2.87 percent from 2.67 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.23 percent from 0.17 percent Wednesday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Light, sweet crude fell 72 cents to finish at $41.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Investors weren't disappointed in all fourth-quarter results - Colgate-Palmolive, for one, said its earnings rose nearly 20 percent because of lower cuts, higher prices and new products. The consumer products company's shares rose $1.37, or 2.2 percent, to $65.22.