- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wall Street closed Tuesday with losses, ahead of reports by the federal government later this week on unemployment and the banking industry.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8,410.65, down 16.09 points. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed at 903.80, down 3.44 points, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 1,754.12, down 9.44 points.

The federal government on Thursday is scheduled to release the findings of its so-called stress tests on the country’s 19 biggest financial institutions and on Friday to announce monthly unemployment numbers.

The tests reportedly have found that Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and a few regional banks would need more capital to cushion against a more prolonged or severe recession.

Bank of America stock closed Tuesday at $10.84, up 4.43 percent. Wells Fargo stock closed at $23.27, down 4.04 percent.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s midmorning report to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee on the U.S. economy appeared to have little impact on the markets. However, he appeared to foreshadow the reports by saying a major focus of the tests was the capital “buffers” and that record-high unemployment likely will increase until the economy begins to recover later this year.

The markets opened after big gains Monday on upbeat reports about housing contracts and construction spending. The Dow gained 214.33 points Monday, to close at 8,426.74, and the S&P; moved into positive territory for the year.

The major markets are up about 30 percent since hitting 11-year lows in early March - a rally that largely has followed first-quarter reports by major U.S. banks that were better than expected.

Kraft Foods Inc. was among several major U.S. companies Tuesday reporting first-quarter earnings. The food manufacturer said its first-quarter earnings exceeded expectations by 10 percent, despite declining sales. Its stock closed at $25.22, up 3.96 percent.

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