Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Stocks mixed despite
upbeat retail sales

By Amy Baldwin
Associated Press

NEW YORK >> A strong start to the holiday shopping season sent stocks soaring briefly today, with the Dow Jones industrials climbing above 9,000 for the first time since summer, only to be brought down by another disappointing economic report. Prices were mixed, with tech stocks again one of the market's strongest sectors.

Stocks began falling back following a weaker-than-expected reading on manufacturing. Analysts said investors were also second-guessing the weekend's retail sales figures, wondering if the strength was artificial.

"The market is still looking for any reason to keep on going up. That is why it seized on very a strong retail sales number. But then you had questions: Was it strong because the season is a week shorter this year? Or, was it strong because retailers were putting things on sale?" said Tony Cecin, director of institutional trading at US Bancorp Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis.

The Dow closed down 33.52, or 0.4 percent, at 8,862.57, having gained as much as 147.28 earlier when it moved past 9,000. The Dow, up for eight straight weeks, last traded above 9,000 on Aug. 27 when it hit 9,040.04, but has not closed above that mark since Aug. 22 when it was at 9,053.64.

The market's broader gauges, up for seven of the past eight weeks, were mixed. The Nasdaq composite index rose 6.00, or 0.4 percent, to 1,484.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.78, or 0.2 percent, to 934.53. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, rose 2.18, or 0.5 percent, to 408.54.

The price of the Treasury's 10-year note was down 3/32 point, while its yield was unchanged at 4.22 percent. Two-year Treasury note prices were unchanged and their yield held at 2.06 percent.

Investors were conflicted today -- tempted to take profits from weeks of rallies but also tempted to buy stocks after Dow Jones News reported retail sales hit an estimated $7.4 billion during the weekend, a 12.3 percent increase over a year ago. "Considering the kind of advance we had, you can find some advocates for continuing to take some profits and some for buying on dips. You have both going on here," Cecin said.

Among today's winners, Wal-Mart rose 22 cents to $54.38, falling back from an earlier gain of $2.77. Wal-Mart set a record for one-day sales on Friday, generating $1.43 billion.

J.C. Penney, which also reported record sales for Thanksgiving weekend, advanced 84 cents to $24.57, retreating from an earlier gain of $1.49.

Tech stocks were higher, including Intel, up 17 cents at $21.05.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished Monday down 0.5 percent. In afternoon trading in Europe, France's CAC-40 declined 0.4 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.8 percent and Germany's DAX index rose 1.8 percent.

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