Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Thursday, May 3, 2001

Jobless data send
stocks plummeting

Associated Press

NEW YORK >> Disappointing economic and earnings news, proof that companies still face challenges in the coming months, pulled stocks lower today.

"There are renewed fears about weakness in the economy. We believe the economy is bottoming, but we are not there yet," said Alan Skrainka, chief market strategist at Edward Jones of St. Louis.

But Wall Street's newfound sense of cheer helped blue chips to curb their losses just before the close. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 80.03 at 10,796.65 after being off 148 points earlier in the session. The index closed just above its break-even point for the year, 10,786.85, but still sacrificed gains this week that had brought the Dow to its highest close since February.

The Nasdaq composite index fell 74.40 to 2,146.20 to end its four-day winning streak. However, the loss accounted for less than half of the 185.72 that the tech index had gained since last Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 18.85 to finish today at 1,248.58. Decliners beat advancers 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, with 1,827 down, 1,222 up and 223 unchanged. Volume was 1.1 billion vs. 1.6 billion yesterday.

The NYSE composite index fell 6.41 to 632.42, the American Stock Exchange composite index dropped 10.81 to 920.72 and the Russell 2000 index lost 5.99 to 485.65. The Treasury's 10-year note rose 20/32 to 98 15/32; its yield fell 9 basis points to 5.20 percent. The 30-year bond rose 7/8 to 96 7/32; its yield fell 6 basis points to 5.64 percent.

Investors were trading cautiously ahead of tomorrow's unemployment report for April, Skrainka said. Unemployment is expected to remain at 4.3 percent, where it stood in March.

The market was troubled by other labor data today. The Labor Department reported that first-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose last week to a five-year high, a sign that employers' need for workers continues to wane.

The market's losses were widespread, in keeping with the fact that most businesses have been hurt by the weakened economy and that many have been forced to lay off workers and slash prices.

Newell Rubbermaid fell $1.49 to $25.85 after posting earnings that missed analysts' forecasts and also warning that second-quarter and yearly profits will also fall short. It also said it plans to cut 3,000 jobs.

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