- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003


   NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street posted its second monthly gain despite apathetic trading yesterday, as investors weighed a dismal manufacturing report against Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s statement that the economy looks likely to rebound. Prices finished modestly lower.
   Analysts said many investors chose to cash in profits, particularly after the release of the Chicago purchasing managers’ report, which showed that manufacturing in the Midwest contracted for the second straight month.
   “We’ve had some very strong gains in recent weeks, so it’s not so surprising to see a little bit of a pullback,” said Peter Dunay, chief market strategist at Wall Street Access, a New York-based brokerage firm.
   “The manufacturing report didn’t help too much, either. We can’t move up much until we see more solid fundamentals to support it,” he said.
   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 22.90, or 0.3 percent, at 8,480.09, after a two-day gain of 196.64.
   The broader market also finished lower. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 6.99, or 0.5 percent, to 1,464.31. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.92, or 0.1 percent, to 916.92.
   With the war winding down in Iraq, investors have become more upbeat about the economic outlook, particularly as a wide range of companies have reported stronger-than-expected earnings in recent weeks. Still, analysts say, stocks are vulnerable to bouts of profit taking.
   Indeed, the three main gauges closed a second month of gains yesterday, a feat not seen since last November. In April, the Dow finished up 6.1 percent, the Nasdaq higher 9.2 percent, and the S&P; 500 up 8.1 percent.
   Mr. Greenspan told the House Financial Services Committee yesterday that he still believes the economic recovery will accelerate once the uncertainties surrounding Iraq are over. He also left open the possibility of more rate cuts.
   Meanwhile, the Chicago purchasing managers index fell to 47.6 in April from 48.1 in March, reflecting a slowing of manufacturing in the Midwest. That stirred some investor worry about the Institute for Supply Management’s upcoming report tomorrow on the national manufacturing sector.
   “Greenspan suggested the U.S. economy should grow faster, but I don’t think many people are viewing his comments with a whole lot of conviction,” said Todd Clark, head of listed equity trading at Wells Fargo Securities.
   “The bottom line is, because we’ve had no meaningful [economic] upturn in the past, the market is kind of muted,” he said.
   Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia dropped $1.11, or 11.3 percent, to $8.68 after the multimedia company posted a first-quarter operating loss that was bigger than Wall Street’s estimates.
   Goodyear Tire & Rubber lost 23 cents to $5.72 after the tire maker reported a first-quarter loss that was bigger than expected.
   JDS Uniphase fell 9 cents to $3.23 after the maker of fiber-optic parts reported a narrower fiscal third-quarter loss.
   Gainers included Clear Channel Communications, which rose $1.42 to $39.11 after the world’s largest radio station operator posted lower first-quarter profits that were in line with estimates of analysts.
   Duke Energy increased 31 cents to $17.59 after its first-quarter earnings dropped from a year ago but still beat Wall Street’s expectations.
   Advancing issues outnumbered decliners about 4-to-3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was moderate at 1.65 billion shares, compared with 1.51 billion traded Tuesday.
   The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller-company stocks, rose 2.90, or 0.7 percent, to 398.68.
   

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