- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2009

UPDATED:

Wall Street on Monday held on to most of the gains of last week’s rallies, closing mixed as it looked to Washington for expected action Tuesday on the economic stimulus package and the second phase of the financial bailout plan.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 9.72, or 0.12 percent, to 8270.87. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dipped 0.15, or 0.01 percent, to 1591.56. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 eked out an increase of 1.29, or 0.15 percent, to 869.89.

The price of a barrel of light, sweet crude oil dropped below $40 on the New York Mercantile Exchange even though OPEC announced it will postpone 35 of 150 new oil and gas projects in an obvious bid to control supply in hopes of boosting prices.

Financial stocks again led the markets in hopes that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s second half of the $700 financial bailout, to be unveiled Tuesday, will take over much of the bad debts incurred by banks and other financial institutions.

Industrials also rose, and General Electric Co. soared 14.3 percent in what CNBC said marked one of its biggest gains in a single day.

At the time same, bickering between the majority Democrats and the minority Republicans has delayed Senate passage of President Obama’s economic stimulus package, now at about $827 billion. He campaigned for his plan in Elkhart, Ind., in his first official trip outside Washington as president.

A long delay in congressional passage of the stimulus bill may make the stock markets anxious.

Investor hopes for the package and its potential ability to help get the economy back on track, with its promises of jobs and investment in the nation’s infrastructure, reached so high that they overrode a devastating government report Friday showing that 598,000 people lost their jobs in January, boosting the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent.

So it was a return Monday to the reality of disappointing earnings reports and more job losses to come from the corporate world.

Nissan Motor Co., builder of the Infiniti, Altima and new 370Z cars, announced that it will cut the number of its workers worldwide by 200,000, or 8.5 percent of its labor force, within the next year because of what it expects will be its first annual loss in nine years.

Other Japanese automakers, as well as the U.S. Big Three, face similar problems because the recession has kept people out of showrooms.

Whirlpool Corp., one of America’s best-known makers of home appliances, said its profit dropped a whopping 77 percent in the final three months of last year — to $44 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with $187 million, or $2.38 a share, during the similar period in 2007. Its revenue declined worldwide, indicating the extent of the recession.

The reasons, the Michigan-based company said, were charges of $77 million for restructuring and $32 million because of a product recall. Analysts had expected the giant firm to earn 78 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

And Hasbro Inc., the maker of toys and such household favorites as Scrabble and Monopoly, earned $93.6 million, or 62 cents a share, in the same fourth quarter of last year, down from $133.7 million, or 84 cents a share, the year before. Analysts expected 75 cents a share, Thomson Reuters said.

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