- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

UPDATED:

Wall Street posted afternoon losses Friday following a report that the unemployment rate increased in May but the economy shed fewer jobs than expected.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 7.38 points, to 8,820.52. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock Index was at 936.87, down 5.59 points, and the tech-heavy NASDAQ was down 11.41 points, to 1,838.61.

The Labor Department reported the unemployment rate increased to 9.4 percent in May, up from 8.9 in April and the highest in more than 25 years.

However, the 345,000 layoffs last month were the fewest since September and less than economists expected. Roughly 14.5 million people were unemployed in May.

The report is a key economic indicator because it helps project consumer spending, retail sales and other sectors of the market.

The government reported Thursday that initial unemployment claims last week decrease and continuing claims dropped for the first time in 20 weeks. The markets closed with gains for the fifth time is six days following the report.

Apple Inc. stock fell despite news that co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is returning to work after taking medical leave in January.

Shares dropped 15 cents, to $143.59, in afternoon trading.

The markets are up roughly 30 percent since hitting a 12-year low in early March, as banks stabilized and first-quarter earnings reports exceeded analysts’ modest expectations.

The S&P and NASDAQ have reached 2009 highs and are in the positive this year while the Dow is down just 26 points.

But analysts are now looking for a clearer sign the 18-month-long recession is ending, amid new concerns about the global economy, rising interest rates, the wavering value of the dollar and the increasing prices of oil and other commodities.

Bonds prices decreased Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.85 percent, from 3.71 percent late Thursday.

The dollar was lower against the euro and the British pound.

Oil prices have increased over the past three months, but the price of light crude Friday was down 79 cents, to $68.02 a barrel, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average gained 1.02 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 1.18 percent, Germany’s DAX index was up 0.24 percent, and France’s CAC-40 was up 0.82 percent.

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