Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Stocks end month
with a whimper

NEW YORK >> Disappointing reports on consumer confidence and business activity in the Midwest sent stocks back into a downward slide yesterday, leaving Wall Street with a loss for the month of September. But the market nonetheless ended a solid third quarter, with the Nasdaq composite index rising 10 percent for its fourth straight quarterly gain.

The Dow Jones industrials and Standard & Poor's 500 index each scored a second consecutive quarterly advance. Still, yesterday was the fourth down day for the market out of the last five.

"Any negative news corporate or economic is just another excuse to take profits. ... We have had a dramatic move up in almost every sector of the market," said Brian Bush, director of equity research at Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, Ark.

The Dow closed yesterday down 105.18, or 1.1 percent, at 9,275.06. The loss more than erased Monday's gain of 67.16.

The market's other gauges were also sharply lower. The Nasdaq dropped 37.62, or 2.1 percent, to 1,786.94. The S&P fell 10.61, or 1.1 percent, to 995.97.

Declining issues edged advancers on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume totaled 1.95 billion shares, up from 1.68 billion on Monday.

The Russell 2000 index fell 5.03, or 1 percent, to 487.68.

The NYSE composite index fell 41.32, or 0.7 percent, to 5,644.03.

TheAmerican Stock Exchange composite index gained 1.88, or 0.2 percent, to 990.81.

The two-year Treasury note rose 932 to 100 1032, with its yield falling 14 basis points to 1.46 percent. The 10-year note gained 1432 to 102 1732, with its yield declining 14 basis points to 3.94 percent.

Analysts said the market's declines were owed in part to the end of the quarter. While institutional investors, including mutual fund managers, often buy stocks at the end of the quarter to dress up their portfolios, they also sell to lock in gains. Selling often occurs at the end of the third quarter in particular because mutual funds end their fiscal year at the end of October.

The Nasdaq claimed its fourth consecutive quarterly advance, a run not seen since the six-quarter runup that ended March 31, 2000. The tech-dominated index ended the third quarter up 10.1 percent.

The Dow and S&P achieved their second straight winning quarters -- feats not seen since the fourth quarter of 2001 and first quarter of 2002 for the Dow and since the fourth quarter of 1999 and first quarter of 2000 for the S&P. The Dow's quarterly gain totaled 3.2 percent, while the S&P's came to 2.2 percent.

But the market ended down during September, historically one of the weakest months for stocks. For the Nasdaq, it was the end of a seven-month streak, while for the Dow and S&P it marked the end of a six-month rally. The Nasdaq lost 1.3 percent in September; the Dow, 1.5 percent, and the S&P, 1.2 percent.

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