- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Wall Street's losing streak stretched to a fifth session yesterday, with investors unable to find any justification for a rebound. The Nasdaq Composite Index reached its lowest close this year.
Stocks drifted progressively lower throughout the day, unable to hold early gains. Analysts said the losses reflected investors' unwillingness to get involved in a market with so much uncertainty.
The technology-focused Nasdaq fell 30.60, or 1.7 percent, to 1,782.11. The last time the Nasdaq closed down five sessions in a row was the week of Sept. 17, when the market reopened after the September 11 attacks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 27.95, or 0.3 percent, at 9,625.44 for a total loss of 294 points in the five sessions including last Friday. The Dow fell six straight sessions in January.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 3.34, or 0.3 percent, to 1,080.17.
"Investor sentiment has changed in the last two or three weeks from being cautiously optimistic to cautiously concerned," said Michael Strauss, managing director and senior economist at Commonfund.
He said earnings and economic numbers still suggest solid growth is a few months or even quarters away.
The Dow has now lost 4 percent for the year, the Nasdaq is down 5.6 percent while the S&P; has tumbled 5.9 percent. The decline has come chiefly on doubts about how much the economy and business conditions are improving. Although earnings for the fourth quarter generally met reduced expectations, companies have been reluctant to say business is strengthening.
Wall Street has also become increasingly dubious about the quality and accuracy of corporate earnings, particularly at companies that have complicated structures. With the Enron debacle making news every day, investors are more cautious about buying.
In trading yesterday, Cisco Systems tumbled $1.55, or 8.3 percent, to $17.06, despite reporting better-than-expected second-quarter results. Analysts said investors were concerned about its guarded forecast for the coming quarter and about the effect a less-than-robust turnaround would have on business.
Monthly retail sales reports provided little spark for the market, although some of the figures were relatively strong.

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